Isthmic Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one of the vertebral bodies in the spine has slipped forward over the vertebra beneath it. The word isthmic differentiates this type of spondylolisthesis from the other types, which include: congenital, degenerative, and other less common forms. While congenital spondylolisthesis is present at birth and degenerative spondylolisthesis occurs as a result of aging, isthmic spondylolisthesis is caused by fractures in the vertebra. These fractures occur as a result of overuse, repeated overarching of the back (from activities such as gymnastics or high-diving), or trauma from an injury. The condition most often occurs in the lumbar (lower) spine, and the fractures that cause it can be partial or complete.
Isthmic spondylolisthesis usually develops in childhood and early adulthood but often goes asymptomatic for many years until a patient reaches middle age. The most common symptom of the condition is pain in the lower back, but other symptoms include pain in the buttocks, tightness in the hamstrings, and a rigid, stiffened walk. In severe cases of spondylolisthesis, patients may appear to have a shortened torso, protruding abdomen and exceedingly curved lower back.
Spondylolisthesis treatment depends on the severity of the vertebral slip and can include exercise, medication, chiropractic adjustment, injections, and in severe cases – surgery. A doctor will first examine an X-ray or CT scan to assess the degree of the slip before prescribing a treatment plan.
While most cases of isthmic spondylolisthesis are mild and can be treated with conservative methods, sometimes the disorder causes severe pain and limited mobility, therefore necessitating surgery. Surgical treatment options include traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive surgery. Minimally invasive procedures, like the ones offered at Laser Spine Institute, can provide dramatic results while drastically reducing the amount of muscle and tissue damage that occurs with traditional back surgery.