What is Ligamentum Flavum and How It Effects the Patient
Spinal cord is the most important and fragile part of human body. It serves the very necessary purpose of connecting all the parts of body to each other. Just like a bus in computer, the spinal cord is connected to every organ and takes messages to and from it in the body. If the spinal cord gets hurt or disturbed because of any reason, it can very easily become a reason to prove fatal for the person. Since spinal cord is always under the protection of the vertebrae, a major reason of it getting hurt is because of an injury in the backbone.
There are several diseases and problems that arise in the spinal cord, one of them is Ligamentous Hypertrophy. Which occurs when ligamentum flava grows wider and larger and starts expanding towards the central spinal canal. It is also known as ligamentum flavum thickening. Ligamentum flava is supposed to link the vertebrae together while allowing the controlled vertebral movements. If the ligament starts expanding, it affects the sides of the canals which causes the partial spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of open spinal spaces. If the situation is combined with thickening on the front of the canal then a condition called extreme ligamentum flavum hypertrophy are two different conditions. In the former, a spinal nerve root is pinched by vertebral joint enlargement. The purpose of facet joints is to allow the spine to twist and bend. The facet joints are located between the vertebrae. Nerve roots are passing through the facet joints therefore in case of swelling or injury, patients experience stiffness and pain.
Usually the symptoms may be a nonissue but in case of central spinal stenosis patient will feel pain. The main ligament thickening is combined by a narrowed spinal canal due to congenital condition, developmental condition, back injury or narrowing other processes. In these situations, the ligamentous hypertrophy symptoms arises below the level of thickening. Arthritis or herniated disc can worsen the problems and can lead to a surgery. Due to aging process, the ligamentum also thickens. However, it can also be a result of a spinal surgery or abnormality. In case of unknown cause, it is called idiopathic.
People who are most vulnerable to degenerative spinal conditions are the people who are over 50 years of age. The real problem arises when the spinal nerves are compressed. Mostly degenerative conditions occur in the lower back or neck regions. When the condition of the patient has worsened so much that the anti-inflammatory medicines no longer work, then they are referred for the surgery. Surgical options include minimally invasive decompression ad minimally invasive stabilization procedures. According to the Laser Spine Institute, they have a 98% patient recommendation rate and a 97% patient satisfaction rate. Surgery also has various risks. Therefore before taking the last measure, there are many other conservative measures which can be tried by the patient. Apart from the medication, patients are also prescribed stretches and exercise or physiotherapy. It is very essential that the patient consider all the options before going for surgery.