What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra (bone) in the spine slips out of its proper position onto the bone below it. In adults, the most common cause is abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones, such as arthritis. Symptoms of spondylolisthesis include chronic lower back pain, hamstring muscle tightness, numbness or tingling in thighs and buttocks, and tenderness and weakness in legs.
Types of Spondylolisthesis
There are many types of spondylolisthesis, but the most common cause is aging and wear-and-tear on the spine. Five common types of spondylolisthesis include:
- Dysplastic or Congenital Spondylolisthesis
Congenital spondylolisthesis is caused by abnormal bone formation at birth.
- Isthmic Spondylolisthesis
Isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs when the part of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis is defective or irregular. This condition is often experienced by athletes who frequently hyperextend their spine, such as gymnasts.
- Degenerative Spondylolisthesis
Degenerative spondylolisthesis is associated with arthritis and is typically seen in older patients. Cartilage degeneration eventually causes the disk to slip, causing spondylolisthesis.
- Traumatic Spondylolisthesis
Traumatic Spondylolisthesis occurs when an injury such as a fracture causes a vertebra to slip.
- Pathologic Spondylolisthesis
Pathologic Spondylolisthesis occurs when there is damage to the outside of the spine due to metabolic bone disease or metastases. This causes the bone to be structurally weak and leads to slippage.
Doctors typically treat spondylolisthesis with a back brace, medication, activity restriction, or physical therapy. Spine surgery may be necessary if the vertebra continues to slip or if your pain is not relieved by more conservative treatment.
Types of Surgery for Spondylolisthesis
Two common types of spondylolisthesis surgery are a laminectomy and spinal fusion. In severe cases of spondylolisthesis, laser spine surgery is used as a treatment option, and yields significant positive results in most cases. The main goals of surgery for spondylolisthesis are to relieve pain associated with agitated nerves and to stabilize the spine where the vertebra has slipped out of place.
If you or a loved one has spondylolisthesis, contact our experts at Microsurgical Spine Center to learn about possible treatment options. Our experienced, industry-leading surgeons use state-of-the-art techniques to create specialized treatment plans for patients. Contact Microsurgical Spine Center to schedule a consultation with our doctors and take the first step towards a future without pain.