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.
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.
Both spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are more likely to occur in young people who participate in sports that require frequent overstretching (hyperextension) of the lumbar spine—such as gymnastics, football, and weight lifting. Over time, this type of overuse can weaken the pars interarticularis, leading to fracture and/or slippage of a vertebra.
Doctors believe that some people may be born with vertebral bone that is thinner than normal—and this may make them more vulnerable to fractures.
In many cases, patients with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis do not have any obvious symptoms. The conditions may not even be discovered until an x-ray is taken for an unrelated injury or condition.
When symptoms do occur, the most common symptom is lower back pain. This pain may:
- Feel similar to a muscle strain
- Radiate to the buttocks and back of the thighs
- Worsen with activity and improve with rest
In patients with spondylolisthesis, muscle spasms may lead to additional signs and symptoms, including:
- Back stiffness
- Tight hamstrings (the muscles in the back of the thigh)
- Difficulty standing and walking
Spondylolisthesis patients who have severe or high-grade slips may have tingling, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs. These symptoms result from pressure on the spinal nerve root as it exits the spinal canal near the fracture.
- Minimally invasive fusions and decompressions
- XLIF (extreme lateral lumbar interbody fusion)
- Endoscopic Spine Surgery
- Robotic Spine Surgery (ExcelsiusGPS)
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