Spondylolisthesis treatment options
Spondylolisthesis treatment options are prescribed as a means to relieve pain and other symptoms in the short term, while trying to improve mobility and spine health over the long term. Spondylolisthesis can cause a variety of symptoms, including localized pain, spasms, stiffness and swelling, as well as radiating pain, numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the extremities. Symptoms that occur somewhere other than the actual location of the slipped vertebra are typically caused by nerve compression.
Conservative spondylolisthesis treatment options
The spondylolisthesis treatment options suggested by a doctor will depend on several factors, including the overall health of the patient and the severity of the vertebral slippage. Spondylolisthesis, which almost always occurs in the lower back, is graded on the following scale:
- Grade 1 — the vertebra has slipped up to 25 percent out of place
- Grade 2 — 26 – 50 percent slippage
- Grade 3 — 51 – 75 percent slippage
- Grade 4 — 76 – 99 percent displaced
- Grade 5 — The vertebral body has fallen off the edge of the vertebral body below it
Even in cases of grade 1 vertebral slippage, it’s possible for a displaced vertebra to compress a nerve root or the spinal cord, leading to symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. When this occurs, doctors may recommend a course of conservative treatment options, including:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Pain medication, either over-the-counter or prescription
- Physical therapy
- Stretching exercises to improve flexibility and relieve pressure on pinched nerves
- Weightlifting to build strength
- Walking and other low-impact exercises to improve circulation and range of motion
In addition, a physician might suggest corticosteroid injections to reduce swelling around a compressed nerve. Some patients also have found success using chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture and other complementary and alternative methods.
When to consider surgery
In many cases of vertebral slippage, surgery to relieve nerve compression is usually considered the last resort. If a doctor suggests that surgery might be your best chance to manage your symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures for the treatment of conditions like spondylolisthesis.^
We can help you receive your free MRI or CT scan review* to see if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.