There are a range of spondylolisthesis causes, but two very common ones are natural wear due to aging and high-impact activities, like football and other sports. Spondylolisthesis is the name for when a vertebra slips forward over the one beneath it. This condition affects millions of Americans, and if you or a loved one is trying to cope with the painful symptoms, it can be helpful to know as much as possible about the causes of this condition to have the best chance of finding meaningful relief.
Causes and risk factors for spondylolisthesis
While some spondylolisthesis causes are unavoidable, there are activities that can put you at a higher risk for a slipped vertebra. Gymnasts, weightlifters and football players are especially vulnerable to spondylolisthesis because so much pressure is placed on their backs, particularly the lower back. Other spondylolisthesis causes include:
- Fractures —Spondylolisthesis is often caused by small fractures to the joints in the spine. This can cause a vertebra to become unhinged and slip forward. The fractures can be partial or complete, and sometimes fragments of bone are broken off, which can cause a pinched nerve.
- Aging — As the body ages, the spinal discs dry out, making them less capable of handling movement and absorbing shock. As a disc loses its ability to act as a cushion, it increases the chance that a vertebra will slip forward.
- Tumors — Tumors can weaken bones, causing fractures and potentially leading to a vertebral slip.
- Surgery — Slippage can result from a back surgery; however, it is rare.
- A birth defect — It is possible to be born with a defective joint that can increase the risk of developing spondylolisthesis.
If you have been diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, the good news is that you have treatment options. Most physicians will first recommend conservative methods like exercise, back braces and pain medication. But if you have tried a full course of nonsurgical treatments and are still experiencing pain, visit our spondylolisthesis treatment page to learn more about how our minimally invasive spine surgery procedures can help you get your life back.
Every day our surgeons perform minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilizations that are more precise and safer options compared to traditional open back surgery. Contact our Care Team to learn more and for a review of your MRI report.