What does grade 1 spondylolisthesis mean?

Grade 1 spondylolisthesis is a specific diagnosis that indicates mild slippage of one or more vertebrae in the spine. Normally, the vertebrae are neatly aligned, one on top of the next. However, certain things can cause a vertebra to slip forward. The amount of slippage can vary widely, and physicians use a numerical grading system to explain how far a vertebra has moved.

The spondylolisthesis grading system

The grading system for spondylolisthesis is as follows:

  • Grade 1 — Less than 25 percent of a vertebra has slipped
  • Grade 2 — Half of a vertebra has slipped
  • Grade 3 — 75 percent of a vertebra has slipped
  • Grade 4 — Up to 100 percent of a vertebra has slipped
  • Grade 5 (spondyloptosis) — An entire vertebra has slipped and become lodged in an adjacent vertebra

Grades 1 and 2 are the most common. Grade 5 is extremely rare and usually considered a medical emergency.

Treating grade 1 spondylolisthesis

Grade 1 spondylolisthesis usually does not require surgical treatment. Conservative therapies such as medication, physical therapy and rest can often provide adequate symptom control. Alternative therapies such as yoga and chiropractic care can also help.

If pain persists despite several attempts at nonsurgical treatment, an operation may be recommended. Surgery can be performed to reposition a slipped vertebra, secure it into place and — if necessary — decompress any nearby nerves or nerve roots that were compressed by the slippage.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery. Our board-certified surgeons+ practice a number of advanced techniques, all of which involve a muscle-sparing approach and small incisions. If you’d like to learn more about our minimally invasive spondylolisthesis surgery, contact us today. We can review your MRI at no cost* to help you determine if you’re a candidate for our outpatient procedures.