What Is Spondylolisthesis?

Learn about the symptoms and treatment options for spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine when a bone in the spine called a vertebra slips forward out of place. The term comes from the Greek for “spine,” spondylos, and for “to slip,” listhesis. It’s pronounced “spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis.”

 

There are three common causes of spondylolisthesis:

 

  • Congenital — Congenital spondylolisthesis is due to a birth defect affecting bone formation or growth which can make someone more prone to developing it
  • Isthmic — Athletes, children and anyone participating in strenuous activity may develop stress fractures, which weaken the vertebrae and may lead to isthmic spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative — As you age, changes in the spinal discs can make controlling the movement of vertebrae more difficult, which can lead to degenerative spondylolisthesis
  • Traumatic – An accident or injury can cause a slip in the alignment of the bones.

Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine when a bone in the spine called a vertebra slips forward out of place. The term comes from the Greek for “spine,” spondylos, and for “to slip,” listhesis. It’s pronounced “spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis.”

 

There are three common causes of spondylolisthesis:

 

  • Congenital — Congenital spondylolisthesis is due to a birth defect affecting bone formation or growth which can make someone more prone to developing it
  • Isthmic — Athletes, children and anyone participating in strenuous activity may develop stress fractures, which weaken the vertebrae and may lead to isthmic spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative — As you age, changes in the spinal discs can make controlling the movement of vertebrae more difficult, which can lead to degenerative spondylolisthesis
  • Traumatic – An accident or injury can cause a slip in the alignment of the bones.

What You May Be Feeling

Back Pain

Lower Back Pain

Bladder Issues

Bladder control issues or pain

Tenderness

Tenderness

Shooting Pain

Shooting Pains

Leg Numbness

Leg Numbness

Leg Weakness

Leg Weakness

Sometimes there are no symptoms in patients with spondylolisthesis. When symptoms do exist, the most common is back pain, usually in the lower back. The pain may radiate down the legs, or even feel like a tight or pulled hamstring. If the slipped vertebra is pressing down on a nerve, there may be pain, numbness or tingling in the leg or foot.

Potential Treatment Options

LAMINECTOMY

A laminectomy is a very common procedure that removes a portion of what is known as the lamina (which is the back part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal) in order to create space in the area affected by the slip.

LAMINOTOMY

A laminotomy is a spinal decompression surgery where only a very small portion of the lamina is removed to take pressure off the nerves and spinal cord for pain relief.

Anterior Cervical Disc Fusion (ACDF)

During an ACDF, the damaged disc in the neck is removed, relieving pain and pressure. Then a reinforced implant takes its place, providing stability.

LUMBAR FUSION

During a lumbar fusion the damaged disc is removed from the lower back (lumbar spine), and the two vertebrae are fused together with a reinforced implant to create support.

Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)

Also known as an RFA, this procedure uses high-energy radio frequency to ablate (or remove/vaporize) the troubled nerve, essentially eliminating the sensation of pain.

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