Finding relief from the symptoms of low-grade spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis is a forward slippage of one vertebra over the other in the spine. If this slippage causes any interference with the spinal cord or nerve roots, painful symptoms can occur. The degree that the vertebra is displaced can affect the severity of your symptoms. Low-grade spondylolisthesis, usually defined as anything less than 50 percent slippage, can cause pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness both locally and out to the extremities.
Even if it is classified as low grade, these symptoms can still take you away from your life, whether that means time spent with family or hobbies like fixing your motorcycle. While the higher grades of spondylolisthesis often require surgery, most patients with low-grade spondylolisthesis can relieve their symptoms with conservative nonsurgical treatments.
Conservative treatments of low-grade spondylolisthesis do not try to correct vertebral slippage itself. Rather, they focus on relieving symptoms caused by nerve compression. The symptoms of low-grade spondylolisthesis are often managed with one or more of the following conservative treatments:
- Over-the-counter pain medication, such as naproxen or ibuprofen
- Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, improving posture, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking
- Physical therapy
- Alternating hot and cold compression on the area
- Spinal injections to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the area for an intermediate period of time
Some patients also attempt alternative treatments like acupuncture, herbal remedies or chiropractic care. If you do pursue these types of treatments, it’s important to keep your doctor informed and always work with a reputable provider.
Surgical treatment for low-grade spondylolisthesis
If you have been through several weeks or months of conservative treatment for your low-grade spondylolisthesis and it has not relieved your symptoms, the next recommendation may be surgery to decompress the nerve and possibly stabilize the spine.
Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive spine surgery to treat a full range of spondylolisthesis symptoms and potentially provide increased spinal stability in some cases. Minimally invasive spine surgery involves muscle-sparing techniques that can lead to a shorter recovery time and reduced risk of complication^ compared to traditional open back surgery.