Lumbar Spondylosis Treatment
There is no way to reverse lumbar spondylosis because it is a degenerative condition. Lumbar spondylosis treatment aims at controlling neck and back pain. Recommended remedies include:
- Exercise: A regular exercise program may help you relieve the pain caused by lumbar spondylosis. Even if you have to adapt some of your routines, activity increases circulation to vital tissues.
- Analgesics: Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications with anti-inflammatory properties, like ibuprofen and naproxen, can help control swelling and relieve pain. If you can’t tolerate these medicines, try acetaminophen to ease the pain associated with lumbar spondylosis.
- Ice or heat: Try applying an ice pack or mild heat to the area affected by lumbar spondylosis. You can choose whichever feels better.
Sometimes, conservative lumbar spondylosis treatments aren’t effective in relieving the pain associated with the condition. In this case, the doctor may recommend the following medications, which are only available by prescription:
- Muscle relaxants: These medications can help control lumbar spondylosis pain by managing muscle spasms. One example of a muscle relaxant is cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril).
- Anti-seizure medications: Some drugs used for epilepsy can help ease the pain caused by irritated or damaged nerves associated with lumbar spondylosis. These medications include pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin).
- Opioids: These drugs are also known as narcotics. They are usually only given in cases of extreme pain, can cause severe side effects, and have the potential to become addictive. Some examples of narcotics used to treat the severe pain of lumbar spondylosis are oxycodone (Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin).
In some cases, physicians will recommend an injection of a corticosteroid in combination with a medication that numbs the pain to decrease the inflammation of lumbar spondylosis.
Other Lumbar Spondylosis Treatments and Therapies
If the lumbar spondylosis pain does not resolve within a few weeks, the doctor may recommend physical therapy. Physical therapy is often used in cases of chronic pain to help strengthen and stretch muscles. Trained therapists have a good understanding of specific exercises that can prevent pain by strengthening and conditioning abdominal and back muscles. In addition, studies have shown that regular exercises, especially yoga and walking, can help relieve chronic back pain and symptoms of lumbar spondylosis.
Chiropractic treatment can benefit some people, especially during the first few weeks of the onset of pain. However, chiropractic spinal manipulation is not safe for some patients because it poses a severe risk of spinal cord damage. Notably, people with inflammatory arthritic spine conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis (in some circumstances), should not have spinal manipulation treatments.
Acupuncture is another possible treatment for pain caused by lumbar spondylosis. It involves the insertion of tiny needles into specific body regions at various depths. However, studies examining the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain have not been conclusive.
According to the available research, there is no evidence that other homeopathic therapies are effective in lumbar spondylosis treatment.
Lumbar Spondylosis Procedures
Sometimes, doctors recommend epidural injections for the lumbar spondylosis treatment. This procedure involves the injection of a medication (usually cortisone) into the space surrounding the spinal cord. This area is known as the epidural space. Injections of cortisone can be given directly into the disc spaces, into trigger points in soft tissues, or into the joints connecting the vertebrae. These injections sometimes effectively control acute pain and are especially beneficial in radicular pain (pain that radiates into an arm or leg) caused by lumbar spondylosis.
Lumbar Spondylosis Surgery
Surgery is not often recommended in patients with acute episodes of back pain unless they also have neurological problems. In cases of chronic pain associated with lumbar spondylosis, surgery is controversial. In most research, lumbar spondylosis surgery has not been shown to be more effective than conservative treatments such as pain management and physical therapy. In addition, many surgical patients continue to experience lumbar spondylosis pain after surgery.
Most cases of acute back pain improve dramatically with conservative treatments like pain medication and physical therapy. Most patients’ lumbar spondylosis pain resolves within a few days to a few weeks after the onset of symptoms.
In some cases, lumbar spondylosis causes acute sciatica with symptoms of nerve involvement, such as increasing numbness and weakness. If the symptoms do not improve and the patient’s condition worsens, the doctor may recommend lumbar spondylosis surgery.
Surgery is also performed in cases of cauda equina syndrome. It is a condition in which the nerve bundle at the base of the spinal cord is compressed, causing severe neurological problems. Spinal decompression procedures are used to relieve pressure from the spine’s nerves, which occurs due to herniated intervertebral discs, spinal or foraminal stenosis. Foraminal stenosis is a condition that occurs when bone spurs form on the vertebrae and narrow the openings between the facet joints. Spinal decompression can be performed using several different surgical techniques, including:
- Discectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes a portion of an intervertebral disc that compresses a nerve root or obstructs the spinal canal.
- Laminectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the lamina or bony arches of a vertebra. It creates more room in the spinal canal and releases pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.
- Corpectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the vertebral body.
- Foraminotomy: In this procedure, the surgeon enlarges the openings in the vertebrae where the nerve roots exit the spinal canal. In a similar surgery, a foraminectomy, more tissue is removed.
In addition, the doctor can surgically remove osteophytes or bone spurs from an area of the spine where they are causing nerve compression. Fusion of the vertebrae can also be combined with these procedures to help add stability to the spine.
Lumbar Spondylosis Prevention
There is no known prevention of lumbar spondylosis since it is a degenerative condition. However, you can prevent complications associated with the degeneration and reduce lumbar spondylosis pain using the following advice:
- Plan and stick to a regular exercise routine: Talk to your doctor about a safe workout routine for you. Try incorporating flexibility, aerobic, and resistance training into your program.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight adds pressure and stress to your spinal joints (facet joints). It, in turn, can accelerate the degenerative process of lumbar spondylosis.
- Eat a nutritious diet: Make sure you get adequate amounts of the essential vitamins and minerals every day by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits. Include whole grains in your diet to prevent the early onset of lumbar spondylosis.
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing: Change your position frequently. It gives your back time to recover from the stress and pressure exerted on it from being in one position.
- Maintain good posture: Proper standing and sitting help keep your spine healthy and may help delay the early onset of lumbar spondylosis.
- Lift properly: Never lift with your back and get help with heavy loads.
- Avoid alcohol: Excess alcohol intake may lead to dehydration which speeds up degeneration of tissues and lumbar spondylosis development.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking accelerates degeneration of tissues and lumbar spondylosis development.