Congenital spondylolisthesis

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 bone in the spine, particularly a joint, develops abnormally it can make the vertebrae much more likely to slip out of place. Congenital spondylolisthesis is the most common cause of back pain for teenagers, often happening during growth spurts.

Although you can have spondylolisthesis without experiencing symptoms, pain can occur when the displaced vertebra pinches on a nerve. A common symptom is lower back pain. Other spondylolisthesis symptoms include pain in the buttocks, tightness in the lower back and leg muscles, as well as weakness, muscle spasms and numbness in the extremities. Diagnosis of spondylolisthesis is usually confirmed with an X-ray or possibly a CT scan, with the percentage of lateral movement 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, including 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 individual situation. 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. Advanced technology has 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 that can relieve your pain. For more information, or for a review of your MRI report or CT scan, contact us today.