Spondylolisthesis is a slipping of vertebrae typically arising at the base of the spine. This is a spinal disorder in which a vertebrae bone slips forward, backward or over the bone below it. The base of the spine is exposed to direct pressure as it carries, absorbs and distributes the weight of the body. While it is absorbing that weight and pressure, it also moves in many directions such as twisting, rotating and bending. An excessive combination of weight and movement can result in spondylolisthesis.
Causes of Spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis can transpire for many reasons. There are three main categories of this disorder: congenital, isthmic, or degenerative. Genetics may put some people at risk and cause a defective vertebrae from birth. A vertebrae can also be broken by trauma or stress. Risk factors include sports that put stress on the bones of the lower back. This is a common disease in children and adolescents who are active in athletics such as football, weight lifting, and gymnastics. If the bone slips too far, it may press on the nerves and cause severe back pain or nerve crowding that results in leg pain or numbness. Often with spondylolisthesis, the pain worsens with standing.
Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis
Many people with spondylolisthesis have no symptoms and only realize the issue when they are getting examined or x-rayed for other unrelated issues. However, many people experience major symptoms such as:
- Low back pain
- Buttocks pain
- Muscle tightness and stiffness
- Pain radiating down the legs
- Pain in the thighs
To treat spondylolisthesis, patients must attend physical therapy treatment to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles. After continued physical therapy, if the issue does not get better, but instead persists, a doctor may recommend the option of surgical fusion, or arthrodesis, of the vertebrae to the bone below.
For more information on spondylolisthesis and treatment options, schedule an appointment with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Flower Mound.