What does Lumbar Spondylitis Mean?
For our body to make any movement, our bones need to move smoothly over the joints. This is enabled through cartilage that wraps the ends of your bones in the joints and allows for smooth movement without painful bone-to-bone contact.
When this gradual cartilage breaks down due to age-related wear and tear, you suffer from a condition known as spondylitis, also known as osteoarthritis. It is caused due to an inflammatory condition that is the cause of arthritis.
When this spondylitis affects your lumbar (lower spine), it is referred to as lumbar spondylitis. Lumbar spondylitis meaning also refers to the degeneration that occurs in the bones, joints, and discs of the spine.
This condition is also referred to as lumbosacral spondylitis due to its nature. The term lumbosacral spondylitis refers to the inflammation of the small of the back, which is the area that consists of the L5 vertebrae.
What are the Symptoms of Lumbar Spondylitis?
Lumbar spondylitis symptoms depend on your age, state of health, and severity of this condition. While some people may not experience any symptoms of spondylitis in the lower back, in some people, these may be acute and sudden.
Here are some of the most common lumbar spondylitis symptoms:
- Back pain that often radiates to your extremities.
- A feeling of weakness in the back muscles.
- Tingling in the back, legs, and hips.
- Loss of sensation in the lower back area.
Some people may experience serious symptoms and need to seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms include:
- Loss of bowel or bladder movement.
What causes Lumbar Spondylitis?
Lumbar spondylitis mainly occurs as a result of the normal wear and tear associated with the aging process. It is a common phenomenon and affects almost 9 out of 10 people above the age of 60 years. Here are some of the most common lumbar spondylitis causes:
- Degeneration: This is one of the most common lumbar spondylitis causes and refers to the condition when with age your spinal discs become thinner and lose elasticity.
- Bone spurs: This is the condition that occurs when your vertebrae joints begin to wear down and the bone tissues are forced to rub against each other. This leads to abnormal bone growth along the edges of the vertebrae.
- Herniation: The natural process of aging at times causes your spinal disc to tear or crack. When this cracked or torn disc presses against the surrounding tissues or spinal nerves, it leads to a painful condition known as herniation.
How is Lumbar Spondylitis Diagnosed?
Lumbar spondylitis diagnosis is essential to pinpoint the exact cause of this condition. This is critical to guide the correct line of treatment and to rule out the possibility of other overlapping conditions.
Here is how lumbar spondylitis diagnosis is done:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will conduct a physical examination to assess the range of motion in your spinal area. This is also done to check how flexible or strong your spinal area is.
- Imaging tests: These tests are done to look for changes in your spinal bones and joints. You may be advised tests such as an X-Ray, MRI, or CT scan to assess problems that may not be palpable in the early stages of the disease. Your doctor may also suggest other tests such as an electromyogram or a myelogram, which detail the impact of lumbar spondylitis on your nerves.
How is Lumbar Spondylitis Treated?
There is no existing cure for this condition. Lumbar spondylitis treatment mainly aims at reducing pain, discomfort, and stiffness in your lower back area.
Here is how lumbar spondylitis is usually treated:
- Medications: You may be advised medications to relieve inflammation, pain, and stiffness. These medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, biologic medications, TNF blockers, etc.
- Physical therapy: You may be advised physiotherapy sessions that include specific lumbar spondylitis exercises to relieve your pain, stiffness, and soreness.
- Lumbar back support: You may be advised a spinal brace that’s beneficial for limiting spinal motion and stabilising it. This helps reduce the risk of deformities and disabilities.
- Ice and heat massage: This is one of the most-effective lumbar spondylitis treatments when coupled with a massage, which helps in enhancing your blood circulation. This relieves pain and stiffness in your lower back.
Which exercises help in lumbar spondylitis?
Though lumbar spondylitis is a discomforting condition and you may want to rest your back as much as possible. However, resting too much may lead to worsening your symptoms. This is where lumbar spondylitis exercises come in.
These exercises are specifically aimed at improving your range of motions and strengthening the muscles in your lower back and are an important part of lumbar spondylitis treatment.
Here are some of the most effective lumbar spondylitis exercises:
- Pelvic tilt: This is one of the most effective exercises to relieve the symptoms of spondylitis in lower back. Lie on your back with your knees flat on the floor. Pull your belly button towards your back and press your lower back on the floor. Hold the pose for 10-15 seconds.
- Cat-Cow pose (Marjaryasana): One of the best poses of yoga for lower back spondylitis this gives your spine a good stretch and flexes it. Get on all fours and place your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees below your hips. Inhale and lower your stomach towards the mat. Exhale and tuck your chin into your chest and arch your spine. Hold the pose for a few seconds and relax.
- Locust pose (Salabhasana): This is one of the most-effective postures of yoga for lower back spondylitis that helps relieve spinal fatigue and pain. Lie on your stomach with your arms at your side. Slowly lift your head, chest, and arms halfway. You may also lift your legs. Remain in the pose for 30-40 seconds and relax.
Though lumbar spondylitis has several discomforting symptoms, it doesn’t mean that you need to live with these always. It can be easily managed by staying active through a regular home workout plan, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a good posture.
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