what is lumbar spondylosis and how physiotherapy can help

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what is lumbar spondylosis?

Content is medically reviewed by:

Shruti Bangera, Masters In Neurological Physiotherapy, Senior Physiotherapist & SME, Portea

People often wonder about what is lumbar spondylosis? When the spinal discs of the lower (lumbar) spine shrink, the condition is called lumbar spondylosis. 

This condition occurs due to age-related wear and tear and weakening of bones. Some of the other causes include arthritis of the spine, bone spurs, bulging or herniated discs, or any other abnormalities in the spine. Genetic, obesity, having a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and mental health conditions like anxiety or depression, etc. are also said to contribute. Lumbar spondylosis occurs mostly after the age of 50 years.

what are the symptoms of lumbar spondylosis?

Lumbar spondylosis symptoms vary from people to people. In most cases, the symptoms occur when the nerves or the spinal cord itself becomes compressed. In mild cases of lumbar spondylosis, spine area may not experience any symptoms. Some of the most common signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Constant lower back pain. 
  • Stiffness in the joints or muscles in the mornings after waking up.
  • Tingling sensation in the back, legs, hips, etc. 
  • Loss of sensation in the lower back areas. 
  • Pain in the thighs. 
  • Tenderness in the lower back. 
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Lack of coordination in the limbs while walking. 

who does lumbar spondylosis affect?

There are certain categories of people who are affected more by lumbar spondylosis than others. Factors that increase the vulnerability of people include:

  • People get more vulnerable as they age.
  • Smoking increases the chances of lumbar spondylosis.
  • Jobs that involve repetitive motion of the spine, heavy weight lifting, etc. make a person more prone. 
  • Overweight people are more prone. 
  • People who suffer from diseases and abnormalities of the spine. 

how is lumbar spondylosis diagnosed and treated?

Lumbar spondylosis is diagnosed through a variety of tests that depend on your symptoms, severity of the condition, and general medical health. Some of the most common tests that are used include:

  • A physical examination to check the motion, reflexes, and motor skills. This also lets the doctor check for pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve. You may be required to walk to see if your gait is being affected by spinal compression. 
  • X-Ray of the back to check for abnormalities or degeneration of the spine.
  • MRI scans to see if any nerves have been compressed.
  • CT Scan to see more detailed images of the bones. 
  • EMG, which is a nerve function test to check for the electrical activity in your nerves. 
  • Nerve conduction studies during which electrodes are attached to the skin and the speed and strength of the nerve signals are measured. 

Lumbar spondylosis can become serious if not treated in time and lead to several complications. It may lead to severe pain in the back, loss of sensation, loss of coordination and balance, falls, restriction in movement, etc. In serious cases, untreated lumbar spondylosis may also lead to paralysis. 

Since it is an age-related condition, lumbar spondylosis treatment involves managing its symptoms and minimising pain and discomfort. There is no permanent cure for this condition. Treatments are designed for you to maintain quality of life and prevent damage and degeneration to the spinal cord and nerves. 

The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, your age, and general health and include:

Medications: These include

  • Over the counter painkillers.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help relieve the pain and inflammation that’s common in lumbar spondylosis.
  • Corticosteroids to help in faster pain relief. 
  • Muscle relaxants to help in muscular pain and spasms in the spinal area or the neck, hips, etc. 
  • Anti-seizure medicines to prevent and reduce the pain in the nerves of the affected area. 
  • Certain anti-depressants are also prescribed to help ease the pain. 
  • Surgery: If non-surgical treatments fail or if your signs and symptoms of lumbar spondylosis progress, your doctor may advice surgery. The surgery generally includes removing bone spurs, the herniated disc, part of the vertebra, etc. Surgery might also involve spinal fusion using bone graft and hardware. 

how does physiotherapy help in lumbar spondylosis?

Physiotherapy plays a significant role in the treatment of lumbar spondylosis. Some of the ways in which physiotherapy helps include:

  • It helps in relieving pain and discomfort. 
  • Helps in strengthening of muscles.
  • Restoring movements.
  • Educating the patient about posture, resting positions, techniques of lifting weight, etc. 
  • Easing the painful symptoms of pre and post-surgery.
  • Management of arthritis, etc. 
  • Management of joint pains.
  • Management of pains that simultaneously occur in the head, neck, hips, etc. 
  • Overall wellbeing, improvement of health, and faster recovery. 

what does a lumbar spondylosis physiotherapy program include?

Exercises that building strength and flexibility of the muscles and nerves and improve their range of motion are included in physiotherapy for lumbar spondylosis. Some of the most common lumbar spondylosis exercises include:

  • Balance exercises: Aiming to challenge the body’s vestibular and musculoskeletal systems, these exercises help in maintaining a good posture, improving the reaction time of muscles, bettering the static balance, improved spinal function, and reduced risk of falls. These exercises include exercises in different terrains, on different bases of support, without visual feedback, etc. 
  • Hydrotherapy: This involves carrying out exercises in warm water to relieve pain, strengthen muscles, improve balance, bettering spinal function, and educating about correct functional movement patterns. The exercises generally include stretching and strengthening exercises. 
  • Improvement of ergonomics: This involves assessing the patient’s working environment to see the kind of stresses that it is/can have on the body. This helps in reducing the risk of injuries, improvement in posture, relief from pain and discomfort in the spinal, neck, hips, and head, and overall wellness. 
  • Realignment of the posture: This involves assessment of the patient’s posture and finding the postural problems that are contributing to lumbar spondylosis. The underlying causes of your poor posture like joint stiffness, injuries, etc. The correct posture will then be suggested that will be aligned with your lifestyle, work, driving habits, etc. 

what is the role of a physiotherapist in lumbar spondylosis?

For people suffering from lumbar spondylosis, while physiotherapy plays a very critical role, an exercise program cannot be designed themselves. It is essential to have a professional and dedicated physiotherapist to design your treatment plan. The essential role played by a physiotherapist includes:

  • The therapist will assess your condition and plan your treatment depending on your personal needs. 
  • The therapist will educate you about your treatment and answer all the questions that you might have and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • She/he will perform these exercises with you ensuring that you are getting the right treatment. 
  • She/he will ensure that you are consistent with your exercise plan and do not deviate.
  • Monitor and evaluate the treatment and assess if it is working on you and is helping you heal. 
  • She/he will refer you to medical practitioners depending on your symptoms and conditions. 
  • In case there are some painful symptoms or side effects, the therapist will modify the treatment. 
  • She/ he will help you in gaining a more balanced state of mind that’s critical for holistic healing.

how can portea help you?

As one of the most credible healthcare companies in India that brings compassionate care into your home, Portea lets you access the services of world-class physiotherapists. Besides being treated in the comfort of your house, there are several other benefits that we bring to you:

  • Our physiotherapists are trained medical professionals who are experienced and selected only after rigorous screening processes so that you have access to the best possible health care. 
  • Since our therapists are well-versed with not the basic and advanced techniques of physiotherapy, but they are also abreast of the latest techniques and equipment for a faster recovery.  
  • Our treatment plans, since they are executed at home, are economical as compared to getting physiotherapy in a hospital or a clinic. Since they are customised according to your personal needs, they have been found to be 20-50 percent cheaper. This is especially true if you need physiotherapy on a long-term basis. 
  • You don’t have to worry anymore about travelling to the hospital or clinic for getting sessions. This saves the cost of travel, is not stressful, and helps you in healing faster. 
  • Our portal is completely transparent. You can calculate, compare, and decide the budgets and physiotherapy programs that work the best for you.
  • By accessing physiotherapy sessions from Portea, you only need to worry about getting healthy quickly. We take over the entire administration, management, and execution of your treatment.
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