What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a spine condition that describes the forward slipping of one vertebra over the top of the vertebrae below it. This may result in stresses on the tissues and delicate neural structures in the spine. 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 doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis and begin a treatment plan for your symptoms. To learn about the symptoms of spondylolisthesis and available treatments, read the following article.

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:

  • Nerve pain in the arms, hands, legs and feet
  • Axial spine pain in the neck or lower back
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness
  • Limited flexibility in the spine
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction

Generally, spondylolisthesis develops slowly as age and daily wear breaks down the spine. With age, the spinal discs can degenerate and dehydrate, making them unstable and allowing the vertebrae above a damaged disc to become misaligned, 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 conservative steps like pain medication, physical therapy, stretching, yoga, low-impact exercises, weight management and attention to posture.

If the pain continues to worsen after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, you may be recommended for spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute uses a small incision that is muscle sparing to perform a minimally invasive decompression, and in severe cases, minimally invasive stabilization, surgery to help treat spondylolisthesis.

Because of our minimally invasive approach to the spine, our patients can experience a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery as well as a lower risk of complication and a shorter recovery period.^ Contact us today to learn more about the advantages of our outpatient procedures.

Through a free MRI review,* we can find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our spondylolisthesis procedures.