Spondylolisthesis diagnosis and treatment

Spondylolisthesis is the term used to describe a vertebral slippage, or the displacement of one vertebra over another. Most often occurring in the lower (lumbar) spine, which endures a great deal of stress caused by everyday movements, a patient’s spondylolisthesis is commonly measured with a grading scale. A grade 1 signifies a less severe form of the condition with less than 25 percent vertebral slippage, while a grade 5 refers to vertebral slippage so severe that the vertebra is completely displaced.

Spondylolisthesis diagnosis

To accurately diagnose spondylolisthesis, a physician may first ask the patient if they have any of the condition’s common symptoms, some of which are:

  • Pain and tenderness in the back
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stiffness
  • Limited mobility

Additionally, it is important to note that many patients with spondylolisthesis can go months or even years without displaying any symptoms. In fact, some patients only discover they have the condition after receiving an X-ray for an unrelated reason. Because spondylolisthesis can be asymptomatic, a patient may have the condition for some time before receiving a diagnosis.

Spondylolisthesis treatment

While there are several surgical spondylolisthesis treatment options available, most patients only require a conservative, nonsurgical treatment regimen to reduce their pain and improve their quality of life. Some commonly prescribed conservative treatments for spondylolisthesis are:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief
  • Corticosteroid injections to reduce swelling
  • Low-impact exercises to build strength and improve range of motion
  • Stretching to promote flexibility and relieve pinched nerves

Some patients have also found success through a number of alternative treatment methods, such as chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and massage therapy.

Though they are successful for the vast majority of spondylolisthesis patients, occasionally, nonsurgical treatment methods may not be enough to manage a patient’s pain. If you ever find yourself in this situation, consider the minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons are leaders in their respective fields, and perform minimally invasive procedures as alternatives to traditional open spine surgery. To find out if you are a candidate for our procedures through a no-cost MRI review*, contact Laser Spine Institute today.