What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is where a vertebra in the spine slips out of its proper position onto the bone below it. This occurs most often at the base of the spine. This condition can result in back pain, numbness, or tender muscles. Therapeutic and surgical methods can be used to help treat this condition.
What Are The Types Of Spondylolisthesis?
There are a number of different types of spondylolisthesis that are usually differentiated based on the cause. The different types are listed below.
- Congenital spondylolisthesis: This is caused by an abnormal bone formation at birth.
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis: Normally associated with arthritis, this form of spondylolisthesis is often seen in older patients due to cartilage degeneration causing the disk to slip.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis: When the part of the vertebra, called the pars interarticularis, is defective or irregular and can be caused by frequently hyperextending one’s spine.
- Pathological spondylolisthesis: This type of spondylolisthesis occurs when there is damage to the outside of the spine from metabolic bone disease or metastases. This leads to a structurally weak bone and results in slippage.
- Traumatic spondylolisthesis: This is a result of an injury, such as a spinal fracture, that causes slippage.
- Post-surgical spondylolisthesis: When slippage occurs after spinal surgery, it is known as post-surgical spondylolisthesis.
How Common Is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is one of the most common causes of back pain, especially in elderly and athletic patients. It is also one of the top three most common diagnoses for why spine surgery is performed on a patient.
If you think you may be experiencing spondylolisthesis, you should first consult a physician. Physical exams are usually the first part of diagnosing spondylolisthesis. X-rays may then be taken to help further identify causes of spondylolisthesis, such as a vertebra that is fractured.
Causes of Spondylolisthesis
In adults, the most common cause is abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones, such as arthritis. Spondylolysis, a fracture in a vertebra that causes slippage over a bone below it, is also often a reason for spondylolisthesis to occur.
Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis
Symptoms of spondylolisthesis include chronic lower back pain, hamstring muscle tightness, numbness or tingling in thighs and buttocks, and tenderness and weakness in legs.
There are a number of treatments for spondylolisthesis that may or may not require surgery. Below are examples of such treatments.
Spondylolisthesis Treatments Without Surgery
Many non-invasive treatments focus on body movements and pain relief to help patients. Some of these treatments include:
- Using a back brace
- Partaking in activity restrictions
- Joining physical therapy
- Receiving prescription or over-the-counter medication
Types of Surgery for Spondylolisthesis
In some cases, patients may require surgery to treat spondylolisthesis. These can be done both as an outpatient and inpatient. The main goals of these surgeries are to relieve pain associated with agitated nerves and spine stabilization. Common surgeries done to treat spondylolisthesis are:
- Spinal fusion – This surgery connects two or more vertebrae.
- Laminectomy – A procedure that removes one or more vertebrae.
- Laser spine surgery – This surgery uses small incisions and the latest technology to correct spinal issues.
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.