Lumbar Degenerative Disease
Degenerative Disease Treatment In Boston MA
Lumbar degenerative disease is a term used by doctors to describe the natural degeneration of the lumbar (lower) spine over time.
Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae stacked on top of each other to form the spinal column. Each vertebra is separated from the next by a shock-absorbing disc (spinal or intervertebral disc) made of spongy connective tissue. This protects your spine against the pressure and friction of movement. In addition, two facet joints lie between each pair of vertebrae on the back of the spinal column – one on each side of the spine. It is the alignment of these joints that gives you freedom of movement as you bend, twist, and stretch.
Lumbar degenerative disease is an umbrella term for such conditions as spondylosis (degeneration of the spinal discs, as in osteoarthritis), spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve spaces), and spondylolisthesis (forward slippage of spinal vertebrae).
Symptoms and Treatment
Lumbar degenerative disease, sometimes referred to as lumbago, causes localized pain in the low back and is common in older people. Degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) of the facet joints also causes lumbar pain. Osteoarthritis can be seen on plain X-rays.
The pain, muscle spasm, and inflammation from degenerative lumbar disc or joint disease is usually treated conservatively and nonsurgically. We use a combination of intermittent heat, rest, rehabilitative exercise, pain management injections, and medication to provide you with relief.
Radiculopathy, or nerve irritation, is another common symptom of lumbar degenerative disease. Radiculopathy can be accompanied by burning pain and tingling and is often associated with sciatica pain. Sciatica is most often described as shooting pain or numbness down the leg.
If you suffer from unrelenting pain, severe functional impairment, or weakness in the legs, surgery may be necessary.
The procedure chosen depends on the condition of the spine and your age and overall health. Possible procedures include laminotomy (herniated disc removal), laminectomy (removal of the bony wall adjacent to involved nerve tissues), and fusion procedures. Fusions restore spinal stability by holding the vertebrae in correct alignment.
For more information about lumbar degenerative disease and your treatment options, call Spine Specialists of Boston at (617) 860-6388.