Spondylolisthesis — definition and overview

Spondylolisthesis is a condition that describes the misalignment of the vertebrae in the spine. Often for patients with this condition, a vertebra in the spine will slip due to injury or other spine condition and will move out of the natural alignment of the spine. This could result in pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in certain areas of the spine.

At Laser Spine Institute, we help patients diagnose and treat spondylolisthesis. We believe that each patient deserves to be treated with care and compassion during every health care experience. Our patient-centered care ensures that each of our patients receives one-on-one attention to explain the spine condition and answer any questions surrounding the condition and the treatment options available. Our goal is to educate our patients about all of the options available so our patients can make an informed decision about their spine care needs.

As you research spondylolisthesis, please feel free to reach out to our care team. We are here to help you find answers and create a treatment plan that fits your needs and your lifestyle.

Spondylolisthesis overview

Spondylolisthesis occurs when the vertebrae of the spine move out of their natural alignment. This condition usually occurs in the lumbar (lower back) portion of the spine due to the natural compression of the spine over time.

The spine is comprised of several small bones, called vertebrae, stacked on top of each other. In between each vertebra is a small, sponge-like disc that serves to cushion the vertebrae and allow mobility. Also located in between the vertebrae are joints made up of soft tissue. The joints allow the vertebrae to bend and move, ultimately allowing your spine to have a range of motion.

Most cases of spondylolisthesis occur in the lumbar spine as a result of the natural aging process. The lumbar spine is responsible for supporting the majority of the body’s weight. As time continues and weight is gained, the vertebrae of the lumbar spine may experience compression, causing the joints between the vertebrae to gradually deteriorate. If a joint deteriorates, a surrounding vertebra might slip out of place and move forward over the vertebra below it. This is a misalignment in the vertebrae in the spine and is classified as spondylolisthesis.

Symptoms of spondylolisthesis may include chronic pain from nerve compression, difficulty walking for extended periods of time, and limited movement in the spine.

Treatment options for spondylolisthesis

There are several types of treatment options for spondylolisthesis, depending on the cause of the condition. This spine condition can be caused by the natural aging process, injury or other spine conditions, such as spinal stenosis.

The first form of treatment for patients with spondylolisthesis is a conservative treatment plan. Conservative treatments are considered as any type of spinal treatment that does not involve surgery. The most common forms of conservative treatment for spondylolisthesis include:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercises
  • Stretches
  • Pain medication
  • Steroid epidurals
  • Lifestyle adjustments

Most conservative treatments can be combined to increase pain relief. Consult your physician to ensure that your conservative treatments can be used in conjunction with each other, and inform your physician of any pain or discomfort experienced during or immediately after any conservative therapy.

If you have tried conservative treatment for your spondylolisthesis and you have not yielded any lasting results for pain relief, you may want to consider a surgical option to treat your condition.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive stabilization surgery to treat spondylolisthesis. Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back fusion. We’ve helped over 50,000 patients find relief from back pain, and we’ve earned a 96 patient satisfaction score^. We are confident that our proven surgery treatments can help alleviate your pain from spondylolisthesis.