To maintain stability, the spine needs support from some tissues that are tough and firm. In a nutshell, this is what spinal ligaments called ligamentum flavum do. These tough fibers connect spinal bones (vertebrae) together. Over time, these ligaments become thicker as they calcify or enlarge, which can have a noticeable effect on movement and other factors associated with the spine. You can’t prevent age-related changes from occurring, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing thickened spinal ligaments. Treatments are also available if you have existing issues with spinal ligaments.
Preventing Thickened Spinal Ligaments
Because of the way your spine moves every day, there’s always going to be some degree of repetitive stress and strain on spinal ligaments, which contributes to inflammation and a gradual thickening of these sturdy tissues.
Realistically, you’re not going to be able to completely prevent this process. It’s similar to spinal disc degeneration in that it’s just something that happens because of regular wear and tear. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing serious discomfort related to inflamed or thickened spinal ligaments. Some of your options include:
- Getting regular exercise—even daily walking can be effective
- Eating healthy, balanced meals and sensible, healthy snacks
- Not overdoing it with alcohol consumption
- Limiting or reducing the use of tobacco products
- Maintaining good posture
- Remembering to stretch before you exercise, get active, or participate in sports
You’ll also want to do your best to avoid prolonged inflammation, since it can contribute to calcification of spinal ligaments. If you do have instances of inflammation around your back, taking anti-inflammatory medications and applying ice are some of the self-care remedies you can try to reduce inflammation around spinal ligaments as quickly as possible.
Treating Calcified Ligaments of the Spine
If you suspect your spine-related discomfort is related to issues with your spinal ligaments, start by getting an official diagnosis from a Los Angeles spine surgeon so appropriate treatment can be recommended. It’s better to begin treating spinal ligaments sooner rather than later whenever possible to minimize further degeneration and thickening. If discomfort is mild or moderate, you may benefit from treatments that involve:
- Therapeutic/targeted exercise
- A personalized physical therapy plan
- Modified daily activities
- Corticosteroid injections
- Stretching exercises
Surgery for Spinal Ligament Thickening
If discomfort is severe or you’re not experiencing relief after several months of using conservative treatments, surgery may be recommended. One common option is either a laminectomy or laminotomy, which are decompression procedures that involve partial or full removal of the arch of a vertebral bone. Taking this step may create more room for thicker spinal ligaments. Both procedures can be performed with minimally invasive surgical techniques, which often means fewer risks and a faster recovery time.
You’ll also benefit from being proactive about keeping the other parts of your spine healthy if you want to reduce the risk of putting too much stress on spinal ligaments. For instance, drinking plenty of water can keep your spinal discs spongy and supportive, and watching your posture and weight can reduce issues with overly stressed spine-supporting muscles and nerve irritation.
If you or someone you love needs information about spinal ligaments or spinal health in general, you can trust the industry-leading professionals at The Spine Institute. Our physicians specialize in every aspect of spine care, from complex surgery to back fusion alternatives. Los Angeles residents are encouraged to call us today at 310-828-7757 for an initial consultation.