Spondylolisthesis grades provide physicians with a standardized, medically accepted scale to measure the severity of a vertebral slip. The grading scale measures the percentage that a vertebra has shifted compared to the vertebra beneath it. The percentages are as follows:
- Grade 1: Zero-25% vertebral slippage
- Grade 2: 26-50% vertebral slippage
- Grade 3: 51-75% vertebral slippage
- Grade 4: 76-99% vertebral slippage
- Grade 5: vertebral disc has slipped completely off
Oftentimes a grade 1 spondylolisthesis will be asymptomatic, but a doctor may discover it in an X-ray for an unrelated condition. Typical spondylolisthesis symptoms for grades 1 and 2 include pain in the lower back and buttocks, muscle spasms in the lower back and legs and tightened hamstrings. More severe symptoms are present in spondylolisthesis grades 3 and 4, which can include a protruding abdomen, difficulty walking and possibly a pain that shoots down the length of the spine if nerve obstruction is present.
Spondylolisthesis grades 1 and 2 are often treated with exercise, rest, back bracing or some other form of conservative treatment. Patients with a spondylolisthesis diagnosis of grade 3 or higher may require surgery if conservative treatments fail to relieve the symptoms.
Outpatient spondylolisthesis surgery options are available to relieve symptoms, and these procedures offer shorter recovery times than traditional open back surgeries. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive procedures that are performed in an outpatient setting, enabling you to find meaningful relief from neck and back pain. For more information, contact us today for your MRI review.