Lumbar spondylosis is an age-related degeneration of the vertebrae and discs of the lower back. These changes are often called degenerative disk disease and osteoarthritis. The common condition is marked by the breakdown of one or more of the discs that separate the bones of the spine.
The disks provide cushioning between the vertebrae and absorb pressure put on the spine. This compression can lead to the degeneration of cushioning between the vertebrae, causing contact between bones. Once the protective cushion is gone, bone spurs may develop, giving nerves less room to pass between vertebrae.
Although most people experience some degeneration of the spine as they age, not everyone experiences back pain.
Symptoms Of Lumbar Spondylosis
- 37 % of patients suffering from Lumbar Spondylosis do not have any symptoms initially.
- Pain in the back – mild to severe.
- Stiffness especially in the morning lasting for more than 30 minutes.
- Pain radiating to the lower limbs which progresses gradually and worsens later on.
- Difficulty in performing daily activities like lifting, bending
- Tenderness to pressure on the lower back.
- Abnormality in posture and gait
- Sciatica – Severe pain at the back of the leg proceeding downward till foot.
- Foot drop – dropping due to nerve irritation and weakness.
Neurological manifestations include :
- Tingling and numbness in toes
- Abnormal sensations in lower limbs
- Loss of sensations in lower limbs
- Difficulty in balancing and poor coordination
- Weakness of leg muscles, poor or weak muscle tone in legs
- Poor bladder or bowel control
Causes Of Lumbar Spondylosis
The most important cause of Lumbar Spondylosis is degeneration and aging.
With age, degeneration processes cause the discs to become thinner and harder. They then provide less support to the vertebrae resting on the discs. The body compensates for this by producing small lumps of extra bone called osteophytes to better support your spine and stiffen the spine.
Osteophytes can cause the spine to become too rigid leading to the symptoms of stiffness and pain. Changes in bone structure can also compress nearby nerves and blood vessels leading to pain and pressure symptoms.
Other causes of lumbar Spondylosis may also be due to injury to the spine or past spinal surgery.
Complications Of Lumbar Spondylosis
- Prolapsed intervertebral disc: A prolapsed disc is also called a slipped disc which commonly affects the lumbar portion of the spine. The inner softer part of the disc (the nucleus pulposus) bulges out (herniates) through a weakness in the outer part of the disc. The bulging disc may press on nearby structures such as a nerve coming from the spinal cord. This is the most common complication of Lumbar Spondylosis.
- Spinal Stenosis – Abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal leads to a neurological deficit. Symptoms include pain, loss of sensations, and loss of balance.
- Cauda equina syndrome: This is a serious neurological condition wherein there is pressure on the spinal nerves which can lead to paralysis if not treated. . It is a medical emergency.
- Chronic Debility – Chronic back pain in the elderly can lead to restriction of daily activities and immobility which can cause debility in long term.
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