Congenital spondylolisthesis — symptoms and treatment options

Congenital spondylolisthesis is forward vertebral slippage related to a birth defect. The word congenital means that a condition is present at birth. It is relatively rare since spondylolisthesis is usually acquired later in life as the result of aging, traumatic injury or a stress fracture. This condition can occur anywhere in the spine, but it most frequently affects the lower back.

Overview and symptoms

The reason a birth defect can cause this condition is that if a spinal joint develops abnormally, it can make a vertebra much more likely to slip out of place. Congenital spondylolisthesis is a common cause of back pain for teenagers, often happening in relation to rapid periods of growth.

Although you can have spondylolisthesis without experiencing symptoms, pain can occur when the displaced vertebra or a spinal disc causes nerve compression. A common symptom is lower back pain. Other spondylolisthesis symptoms include:

  • Pain in the buttocks
  • Tightness in the lower back and leg muscles
  • Weakness, muscle spasms and numbness in the extremities

Diagnosis of spondylolisthesis is usually confirmed with a full evaluation including diagnostic imagery like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan. The lateral movement of spondylolisthesis is graded on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 would represent 100 percent slippage.

Pain relief for congenital spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis treatment is often conservative and can include rest, stretching and exercise, pain medication, or a back brace. Always work with your doctor to develop a course of treatment that is best for your situation and lifestyle. These methods are effective for many patients looking for a return to regular quality of life. Surgery is generally only required for high-grade slippage or when a period of conservative treatment, usually lasting weeks or months, has not brought sufficient relief.

If you are considering surgery, you should be aware of all your options so you have the best chance of finding lasting pain relief. Advances in medical technology have made it possible for minimally invasive spine surgery to be performed in an outpatient environment. These minimally invasive techniques offer a shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open back surgery. Laser Spine Institute can treat the symptoms of congenital spondylolisthesis, and potentially provide increased stability, using both minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures. For more information contact us today.

Our dedicated team is happy to provide a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.