Spondylolisthesis is a spine condition that describes the forward slipping of one vertebra over the top of the vertebrae below it. Because this condition is often degenerative in nature, meaning it develops as the spine weakens over time, it typically occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back).

While this condition is not the most common to develop from the natural aging of the spine, it does occur and should be treated quickly to help avoid debilitating pain and limited mobility. If you suspect you have spondylolisthesis, schedule an appointment with your physician to receive an accurate diagnosis and begin a treatment plan for your symptoms.

Recognizing spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis can have a range of symptoms, depending on the severity of the condition. However, there are a few common symptoms that may help you recognize this condition:

  • Sharp pain when moving a certain way
  • Limited flexibility in the spine
  • Chronic pain and soreness
  • Tingling or numbness

Generally, spondylolisthesis develops slowly as age and daily wear and tear breaks down the spine. With age, the spinal discs can wear down and dehydrate, making them unstable and allowing the vertebrae above a damaged disc to slip down over the top of the vertebrae below it, developing into spondylolisthesis. However, this does not happen immediately. The breakdown of the spine is gradual, and can be avoided to an extent with healthy habits of nutrition and exercise.

Because this process is slow, the development of spondylolisthesis symptoms is also slow, giving you time to recognize the condition and schedule an appointment with your physician.

In addition to spondylolisthesis, these symptoms can sometimes be related to the spinal vertebrae and joints. To learn more about these conditions, visit our facet disease page.

Treatment for spondylolisthesis

Consult your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. He or she can determine if your symptoms are caused by spondylolisthesis or another facet disease and can create a treatment plan accordingly. Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and may include the following conservative steps:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching and yoga
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Weight loss
  • Back brace

If the pain continues to worsen after several months of conservative treatment, you may be recommended for spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression, and in severe cases, minimally invasive stabilization, surgery to help treat spondylolisthesis and other spine conditions.

Because of our minimally invasive approach to the spine, our patients can experience a treatment alternative to traditional open back surgery that offers many advantages. Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.