Spondylolisthesis Treatment for Various Symptoms with Minimally Invasive Processes
Spondylolisthesis treatment — non-surgical and surgical treatments for a slipped vertebra
Spondylolisthesis treatment methods vary depending on the severity of the condition. Spondylolisthesis, a spinal disorder characterized by the forward slippage of a vertebra over the one beneath it, is graded in terms of severity using a scale to measure the slippage. The scale ranges from grade 1, indicating a slippage of less than 25 percent, to grade 5, denoting a slippage of 100 percent.
In general, spondylolisthesis symptoms include pain and soreness in the back, pain in the buttocks and tightness in the hamstrings. Depending on the level of vertebral slippage, nerves may become compressed, causing pain to radiate across the lower back or down the legs and to the feet.
Spondylolisthesis treatment — conservative options
Conservative (non-surgical) spondylolisthesis treatment plans are designed to target the patient’s specific symptoms while factoring in his or her age and general health. There are many different conservative treatments available and some carry a limited risk for side effects. Furthermore, the wrong treatment approach can actually further damage the spinal anatomy, so it is extremely important to work closely with a physician before beginning a new regimen. Treatment of spondylolisthesis is similar to that of other neck and back problems, and includes any combination of the following:
- Stretching and exercise – Your physician may recommend that you perform specific stretches that target tightened hamstrings and complete exercises that strengthen the back to better support the weakened spine.
- Rest – You will be advised to avoid activities that might exacerbate the condition and you may be told to take intermittent periods of rest. Extended bed rest is typically not recommended as spondylolisthesis treatment because activity is essential to maintaining the strength of the muscles supporting the spine.
- Physical therapy – Your physician may suggest that you attend regular physical therapy sessions as a form of spondylolisthesis treatment. During these sessions, your therapist will ask you to perform specific exercises designed to enhance the strength and flexibility of the affected areas of your spine.
- Bracing – In some cases, temporarily immobilizing the back can be helpful in alleviating symptoms. Your physician can determine how long you should brace your back for the optimal spondylolisthesis treatment benefits.
- Oral medications – Over-the-counter and prescription drugs like pain medications or muscle relaxants can help you control your spondylolisthesis symptoms. Before beginning such treatment, however, be sure to consult with your physician about what medication and dosage would be best for you.
- Steroid injections – If oral pain medications haven’t effectively reduced your pain, your physician might recommend steroid injections near the source of your neck or back pain.
Alternative treatment options for spondylolisthesis
There are also many alternative approaches available for your spondylolisthesis treatment program. While the benefits of alternative medicine have yet to be agreed upon by the medical community as a whole, you may find that an alternative approach helps control your symptoms. A few of the more common alternative spondylolisthesis treatment options include:
- Chiropractic adjustments – Chiropractors aim to bring the spine back into proper alignment through manual manipulation. Many people find chiropractic treatment helpful in alleviating their neck and back pain, but the beneficial effects are typically temporary because chiropractic care doesn’t reduce the grade of vertebral slippage.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture involves inserting tiny needles at strategic places on the body to stimulate specific nerves and muscles. Many people find that it helps reduce the sensations of pain due to spondylolisthesis, although results from said treatment are typically temporary.
- Acupressure – This technique is based on the same principles as acupuncture, but uses pressure at strategic points instead of needles.
- Yoga – The conscientious breathing and slow movements involved in yoga can help relax you, and the careful stretching can keep the spine flexible while strengthening the muscles surrounding it.
- Supplements – Some patients find taking natural supplements or herbal remedies helps them control their symptoms. Be sure to discuss any herbal remedy you use with your physician because they may cause undesired side effects or otherwise interact with other medications you may be taking.
Surgery for spondylolisthesis
Except in cases of spondylolisthesis that cause severe symptoms, surgery is only recommended after traditional spondylolisthesis treatment options have failed to address the symptoms. Spondylolisthesis surgery usually involves the removal of portions of a vertebra, part or all of an intervertebral disc and/or problematic bone spurs to achieve decompression of the nerves. In some cases, a spinal fusion is performed to stabilize the vertebrae. Traditional surgical approaches to spondylolisthesis treatment are typically performed in a hospital, where the patient remains for a few days to recover after the procedure. The surgeries are completed using long incisions on the back or abdomen, through which surgeons access the spine and perform the surgery itself. In the process, the muscles of the back are often cut, which can mean a painful and lengthy healing period for patients.
Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive outpatient surgeries provide an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. We perform several minimally invasive surgeries that can alleviate neck and back pain, as well as other symptoms associated with spinal degeneration and injuries. In contrast to traditional open spine surgeries, our procedures are completed on an outpatient basis. Our surgeons perform these surgeries using small incisions to the neck or back and avoiding any unnecessary cutting of muscles and other tissues. Our patients also experience shorter recovery times when compared to open spine surgeries, with about 90 percent of our patients returning to work within three months.
Our experienced surgeons complete the following outpatient minimally invasive decompression procedures:
- Discectomy – the removal of a portion of a damaged intervertebral disc to relieve pressure from a neighboring nerve root or the spinal cord
- Laminotomy – the removal of a portion – but not all – of the lamina
- Foraminotomy – the process of widening the space between two vertebrae by removing bone spurs and/or other obstructive tissue
- Facet thermal ablation – the deadening of a nerve within a facet joint in order to alleviate pain associated with degenerative arthritis
For patients who are experiencing more advanced spinal conditions, we may recommend our minimally invasive stabilization surgeries, such as:
- Decompression with Interlaminar Stabilization™ Device
- Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF)
- Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
- Cervical disc replacement
- Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF)
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint fusion
- Posterior cervical fusion
If you and your physician have determined that conservative spondylolisthesis treatment options are not working for you, there is still hope. Minimally invasive procedures, like those offered at Laser Spine Institute, use advanced technology to treat symptoms of spondylolisthesis and have a lower chance of side effects than traditional open back surgery. Visit our FAQ page to learn how our state-of-the-art procedures can help you get your life back. If you still have questions, contact us today and we will be happy to give you more information, as well as a review of your MRI.