What are the symptoms and treatments for isthmic spondylolisthesis?

Isthmic spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra in the spine slips forward and over top of the vertebra below it. While many forms of spondylolisthesis occur due to a damaged disc no longer being able to support the vertebra above it, isthmic spondylolisthesis develops due to a stress fracture in a small bone that connects the joints to the vertebra.

Other types of spondylolisthesis include congenital, degenerative and other less common forms. While congenital spondylolisthesis is present at birth and degenerative spondylolisthesis occurs as a result of aging, isthmic spondylolisthesis is caused by stress fractures in the vertebra, which can happen at a young age and not be recognized until later in life. These fractures occur as a result of overuse, repeated overarching of the back from activities, such as gymnastics, and high diving or traumatic injury.

Symptoms of isthmic spondylolisthesis

Isthmic spondylolisthesis often develops in the lumbar spine (lower back), which can cause the symptoms to mimic that of sciatica. The most common symptom of the condition is pain in the lower back, but other symptoms include pain in the buttocks, tightness in the hamstrings and a stiffened walk. In severe cases of spondylolisthesis, patients may appear to have a shortened torso, protruding abdomen and exceedingly curved lower back.

It is important to schedule a consult with a doctor or spine care specialist if you are experiencing these symptoms in order to determine the proper treatment regimen that fits your spine care needs. If left untreated, this condition may worsen and prevent you from completing daily activities without debilitating pain.

Treatment for isthmic spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis treatment depends on the severity of the vertebral slip and can include low-impact exercise, pain medication, chiropractic adjustment, steroid injections and, in severe cases, spine surgery. A doctor will first examine an X-ray or CT scan to assess the degree of the slip before prescribing a treatment plan.

While most cases of isthmic spondylolisthesis are mild and can be treated with conservative methods, sometimes the disorder causes a surgical treatment to relieve your symptoms. Surgical treatment options include traditional open back surgery or minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive procedures, like the ones offered at Laser Spine Institute, can provide safer and effective alternatives to traditional open back surgery, with a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication.^

Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery can realign the vertebrae of the spine by inserting bone graft from the patient’s own body, often taken from the pelvis. This allows the spine to regain the proper alignment and mobility, as well as relieve pressure from any pinched nerves near the spinal column. For more information about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery, contact us today.

Our dedicated team can review your MRI report or CT scan for free* and determine if you’re a candidate for one of our isthmic spondylolisthesis procedures.