Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 7, 2019
As we get older, our body is prone to developing a number of degenerative conditions, including breakdown of the ligaments in our spine. These ligaments are known as ligamentum flavum, and they are bands of tough fiber that connect two vertebrae to one another and provide your spine with much needed stability. Over the years, they can actually get thicker, which makes movement more difficult and less fluid.
This rough movement takes a toll on the ligament, and it can cause it to calcify or enlarge, both of which can cause issues for your spine. Even though this can occur naturally over time, there are things you can do to both prevent and treat the thickening of your spinal ligaments. We share those strategies in today’s blog.
Preventing Spinal Ligament Thickening
Since spinal ligaments are prone to inflammation and thickening because they are naturally exposed to repetitive stress over the years, there’s no sure fire way to prevent the condition. That being said, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your likelihood or slow the potential onset of ligament thickening. Those include:
- Regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Limiting alcohol or tobacco intake
- Posture awareness
- Stretching before activity
Prolonged inflammation can lead to ligament thickening and in turn enlargement or calcification, so you want to work to prevent the onset of inflammation through a healthy lifestyle. Anti-inflammatory medications can also play a useful role in both prevention and treatment of spinal ligament thickening.
Treating Spinal Ligament Thickening
As you can probably guess, prevention is preferred to treatment, and treating spinal ligament issues in their infancy is much preferred to trying to treat a significantly damaged ligament. If you’re experiencing back discomfort, stiffness or muscle weakness, you may be dealing with a spinal ligament issue. Conservative care is usually effective for mild or moderation ligament inflammation, which includes physical therapy, targeted exercise, activity modification, stretching exercises or corticosteroid injections.
If conservative care isn’t doing the trick and you’re still dealing with significant discomfort, surgery may be an option. Both a laminectomy or laminotomy procedure can be effective in relieving issues caused by thickened or enlarged spinal ligaments. Both procedures are performed using minimally invasive techniques to lower recovery time and reduce the risk of complications. Your surgeon can walk you through the specifics of either procedure if these are potential options for your situation. For more information about spinal ligament issues, or to talk to a back specialist about your discomfort, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office to setup an appointment.