What are the symptoms of spondylolisthesis?

The symptoms of spondylolisthesis depend entirely on the severity of the condition. This degenerative condition occurs when one vertebra moves forward and “slips” onto the bone beneath it, causing spinal misalignment. While this sounds like a devastating condition, spondylolisthesis can actually be completely asymptomatic in some patients and cause no noticeable symptoms. For this degenerative spine condition to cause back pain or other symptoms, spondylolisthesis must cause the compression of a nerve in the spinal column. It is this nerve compression that causes your neck or back pain.

The best way to understand spondylolisthesis is to visualize the makeup of the spine. This S-shaped structure is comprised of a series of bones that stack on top of one another. The individual vertebrae are separated and cushioned with a spinal disc and interlocked at cartilage-coated facet joints. In addition to providing the body with the flexibility and mobility that we require for daily activity, the spinal column protects an extremely complex infrastructure of nerves. When one of these vertebrae becomes misaligned — either as a result of injury or spinal deterioration — the spinal column may become constricted, which leads to nerve compression and pain.

Specific symptoms and treatment

Spondylolisthesis is normally described in varying grades (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) that describe the extent of the vertebral slippage. Should a nerve become irritated, a number of symptoms may be experienced, including:

  • Lower back pain
  • Sciatica pain
  • Unexpected muscle weakness or fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling in the lower extremities
  • A burning feeling in the legs
  • And more

If you believe you may be experiencing the effects of spondylolisthesis or any other degenerative spine condition, it is important that you visit your physician immediately who can give you a proper diagnosis. If your physician recommends surgery to treat your spondylolisthesis, Laser Spine Institute might be able to offer you minimally invasive, outpatient alternatives to traditional open spine surgery, depending on the severity of your condition. We offer both minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that effectively treat cases of spondylolisthesis. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation, to request a review of your MRI report or CT scan, and to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures.