Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition that involves one vertebra slipping out of place onto the vertebra below it. This usually occurs in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine. Spondylolisthesis can lead to stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or compression, both of which put pressure on the central nerves that make up the spinal cord.
Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis often results in lower back pain. A vertebrae may
slip out of place without showing symptoms of any kind. In these cases, a twist or strain on the spine may cause symptoms to appear suddenly.
If the misaligned vertebrae creates pressure on the nerves that make
up the spinal cord, patients may experience:
Numbness or tingling in the buttocks and legs
Muscle weakness in the lower extremities
Radiating pain in the lower half of the body
Causes of Spondylolisthesis
Vertebrae are held together by joints that allow them to move without disconnecting from each other. When these joints are fractured or damaged, a vertebra may slip out of place. Joint damage may be caused by:
Stress fractures from regular strain on spine
Infection, arthritis or tumors (in rare cases)
Hereditary or congenital defect
Diagnosis of Spondylolisthesis
In order to determine if the patient is experiencing spondylolisthesis, a doctor will typically perform the following:
Identification of location and severity of symptoms
X-ray, CT scan and/or MRI
These tests will allow the doctor to determine the location and grade of the slipped vertebrae. The grade (I – V) describes how far forward a particular vertebra has slipped. With this information the doctor can recommend the ideal treatment plan.
Treatment of Spondylolisthesis
Non-surgical options are typically explored first. This may include medication, rest, physical therapy, bracing and epidural spinal injections. If non-surgical techniques don’t improve the patient’s symptoms, the doctor will usually recommend surgery. There are a number of surgical procedures
for fusion and decompression of vertebrae. The procedure that is best for you depends on the location and severity of your condition. Talk to your doctor about potential risks and benefits of surgery.
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to schedule an appointment or to learn more about spondylolisthesis.