Spondylolisthesis occurs when one bone in your back ends up sliding forward over the bone below it. This condition most commonly affects the lower spine area and can even cause your spinal cord or nerve roots to be squeezed in some cases.

When you are suffering from this condition, you will often experience back pain and a numbness or perceived feeling of weakness in either or both of your legs.

The problem according to experts like Brent Morgan MD, is that sometimes when a vertebrae becomes dislodged from their usual place, you might actually have no symptoms at all or they may not surface until years later.

What causes Spondylolisthesis?

Your spine is constructed in a way that the bones come together at several small joints which has the effect of keeping these bones lined up correctly and allowing them freedom of movement at the same time.

Spondylolisthesis is when there is a problem with one or more of these small joints in your back. This can a congenital issue and therefore a defective joint you will have had from birth, or it could be that a joint has become damaged as a result of an accident or some other form of trauma.

You could also suffer from Spondylolisthesis if you have a vertebra that has a stress fracture which is as a result of overuse of that particular joint. You could also subsequently suffer from the condition if your joints become damaged by arthritis or infection.


Young or old

Spondylolisthesis can affect people of all ages although there are certain age categories that are perceived to be at greater risk than others.

Children and teenagers in particular are susceptible to Spondylolisthesis if they are heavily involved in sports activities. Certain sports like gymnastics and weight lifting are known to contribute or cause the condition, due to the fact that overuse of the back bones with these activities, can cause stress fractures in vertebrae.

Older adults are also susceptible to Spondylolisthesis, mainly due to wear and tear on their body over a long period of time.

This wear and tear potentially leads to stress fractures but the condition can also occur when the discs and joints become worn down and then slip out of place.

Common symptoms

The problem you might be facing is that Spondylolisthesis can sometimes cause no symptoms at all, but you may also experience one or several of the known indications that there may be a problem that needs to be checked by a medical professional.

You may suffer from back or buttock pain or a pain that runs from the lower part of your back and down one or both of your legs. You could also experience a numbness or weakness in your legs and have difficulty walking.

Another symptom of Spondylolisthesis is having an increased level of back, buttock or leg pain when you bend over or twist your body and in rare cases, you might suffer from loss of bladder or bowel control.

Diagnosing Spondylolisthesis

When you seek medical advice and an opinion, one of the first steps is to arrange for an X-ray of your back so that the doctor can see what is going on and look for any misalignment or fractures.

The X-ray will show whether any of the vertebrae in your back have become fractured or cracked, causing them to slip out of their normal alignment. It might also be suggested that you have a CT scan or an MRI in order to pinpoint the damaged area more accurately and help with planning the treatment process.

Treating Spondylolisthesis

Once Spondylolisthesis is diagnosed, the first course of action should be to cease any physical activity that is believed to the condition in the first place.

Physical therapy is also considered to be beneficial as it will help to increase your range of motion and strengthen core abdominal muscles. Anyone who is experiencing numbness as one of their symptoms, might benefit from a cortisone injection and patients who are diagnosed with Isthmic Spondylolisthesis could improve through the use of a hyperextension brace.

Surgery is also an option for patients who do not show any improvement with more conservative treatments and the type of surgery required, will depend on the type of Spondylolisthesis that the doctor has diagnosed you are suffering from.

Spinal slippage is actually more common than people realise, but you should get a diagnosis if you experience some of the symptoms related to Spondylolisthesis.

Brent Morgan MD has performed over 3,000 cervical and lumbar procedures in his career. A dedicated neurosurgeon, he participates in many programs to educate other physicians on advanced procedures. When Dr. Morgan isn’t working at his busy clinic, he’s sharing his know-how by posting online. You can read his helpful and interesting articles on a number of today’s top medical and health websites and blogs.

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