Introduction: OPLL


OPLL = Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament

  • Excessive movements of the spine are restricted by ligaments, one of which is the posterior longitudinal ligament.
  • OPLL is a condition characterized by a gradual ossification (turning to bone) of this ligament which may then compress the spinal cord.
  • The ligament runs the length of the spine, along the posterior side of the vertebrae, from the second vertebra of the cervical spine to the sacrum. However, the ossification is found in various parts of the ligament and is more common in the cervical spine than the thoracic spine. (See more in Going Deeper below.)

Potential Causes

OPLL is most commonly diagnosed in men, people of Asian descent and people over age 50. The exact underlying cause is currently unknown; however, scientists suspect that it is a multifactorial condition that is influenced by several different genetic and environmental factors. – National Institutes of Health

  • The cause of OPLL is unknown.
  • It has been linked with other musculoskeletal diseases like Ankylosing Spondylitis.
  • Risk factors might include genetics, hormonal variations and environmental or lifestyle factors. (Dr. Vikram Chauhan)

Standard Western Medical Approach

  • Pain medication
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • NSAI drugs and opioids
  • Bed rest
  • Braces to stabilize the spine
  • Surgery may be used if there are signs or symptoms of myelopathy such as abnormal reflexes or difficulty walking (The Spine Hospital)

Ayurveda Approach

  • One source we found that summarizes an approach from an Ayurvedic standpoint is here.