Spondylolisthesis — causes and classifications

Spondylolisthesis is a spine condition that describes the misalignment of vertebrae in the spine. There are several causes of spondylolisthesis, including other spine conditions such as degenerative disc disease or spinal arthritis. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms of spondylolisthesis usually include chronic back pain, radiating pain in the extremities and difficulty walking for extended periods of time.

If you suspect you have spondylolisthesis, it is important for you to consult your doctor to discuss your symptoms and determine an accurate diagnosis. You may be required to get an MRI or CT scan to properly evaluate your spine condition. If you are diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, your doctor can help you find a treatment plan to relieve your pain and symptoms.

Causes of spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis has a range of causes, but the most common include:

Other causes of spondylolisthesis include birth defects and spine infections. These causes can be determined through MRI or CT scan review to properly diagnose the condition and form a plan of action to treat the root cause of spondylolisthesis. Your doctor will also typically ask you questions about your symptoms.

Classifications of spondylolisthesis

Much like the causes of spondylolisthesis, there are several classifications of the condition. Before you can accurately treat your spondylolisthesis, you must determine the type of condition you have. The classifications of spondylolisthesis include:

  • Congenital spondylolisthesis/Dysplastic spondylolisthesis. This classification of spondylolisthesis is due to a birth defect and is present in the womb.
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis. This is the most common classification of the condition. Isthmic spondylolisthesis is caused by a stress fracture that moves the vertebrae of the spine out of alignment. Studies have shown that between 5 to 10 percent of Americans have isthmic spondylolisthesis.
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis. This classification is caused by the natural degeneration of the discs or joints between the vertebrae due to arthritis, degenerative disc disease or osteoporosis in the spine. When the discs deteriorate, the vertebrae slip out of place, causing spondylolisthesis.
  • Traumatic. Traumatic spondylolisthesis is usually the result of an injury or severe fracture.
  • Pathologic spondylolisthesis. This condition of spondylolisthesis occurs as a result of a bone disease or infection.

Additionally, doctors will grade spondylolisthesis on a scale of one to five, with one being the least severe and five representing complete slippage over the neighboring vertebrae.

Treatment for spondylolisthesis

There are several treatment options available for patients with spondylolisthesis. After diagnosing this condition, most doctors will begin with conservative treatment options like physical therapy, medication or therapeutic massage. However, if you do not find relief from conservative therapies, there are surgical treatments to help patients find lasting relief.

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery to treat spondylolisthesis. Consult your doctor to determine if a surgical solution is right for you or contact our caring team today for more information about the benefits of our procedures.

We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.