What causes spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a degenerative spine condition that occurs when one vertebra in the spine slips over the vertebra below it, causing spinal misalignment. When this slippage causes compression of the spinal cord or one of the nerve roots, a number of painful symptoms may appear.

Causes of spondylolisthesis

Picture your spinal column. Your spine is formed of a series of bones, known as vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. These vertebrae are separated by discs and linked by vertebral joints called facet joints. Sometimes, as a result of a traumatic injury or a degenerative spine condition, one vertebra can begin to slip over the top of another. Here are some of the primary specific causes of spondylolisthesis:

  • A birth defect that causes a weakness in a spinal joint
  • Fracturing of the pars interarticularis, part of the facet joint, due to an accident or sports injury
  • A stress fracture to a vertebra caused by repetitive motion or overuse
  • A degenerative disc condition that causes a vertebra to slip
  • In rarer cases an infection or tumor can cause the joint to destabilize, resulting in vertebral slippage

If a minor slippage occurs, you may have no symptoms and be unaware of this change. But if nerve compression occurs, painful symptoms can appear, including local pain and radiating symptoms like tingling, numbness and muscle weakness.

Treatment for spondylolisthesis

Treatment options for spondylolisthesis vary depending on the degree of misalignment. If you are having symptoms of spondylolisthesis, you will generally be advised to try conservative treatment methods first. Stretching and low-impact exercises can help to strengthen your lower back and take some pressure off the spine. A doctor should always approve any treatment method prior to starting. If you do not experience pain relief from a full course of conservative options, your doctor may recommend spinal surgery. A decompression procedure can open space in the spinal column to take pressure off of spinal nerves.

Minimally invasive surgery for spondylolisthesis

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a range of minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures that can be very effective treatments for your spondylolisthesis treatments.

These outpatient procedures at our center include:

  • Foraminotomy — to relieve pressure on nerves that exit the spinal cord
  • Laminotomy — to relieve pressure on the spinal cord compressed by spinal stenosis
  • Discectomy — removes a portion of a herniated or bulging disc that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord
  • Facet thermal ablation — to deaden the painful nerves in the facet joint

We also perform a minimally invasive stabilization surgery for spondylolisthesis called transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. During the procedure, the damaged disc is removed and implants are inserted to help stabilize the spine. All of our procedures offer you a number of benefits compared to traditional back surgery, including a small incision, reduced risk of complication and a shorter recovery period.^

Our goal at Laser Spine Institute is to provide the highest level of comfort and care to help you regain comfortable movement and return to your daily activities. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find pain relief since 2005. Contact our dedicated team today to learn how one of our procedures can help you get your life back from neck or back pain.

We’ll be glad to provide a free MRI or CT scan review* to help you find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.