What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a common cause of back pain, affecting some 3 million people. It means a spinal bone, or vertebra, has slipped out of place and in front of the one below it.
The name (SPONDY-lo-lis-THEE-sis) comes from the Greek words spondylo, meaning spine, and listhesis, meaning slippage. “Spondy” is a disorder of extremes: it can cause no symptoms at all or make performing ordinary tasks like sitting and walking excruciating.
What causes Spondylolisthesis?
Like many complex spine conditions, spondylolisthesis conditions are not a one-size-fits-all. This disorder can be the result of heredity, a childhood accident that causes pain later on, or the effects of aging. Doctors classify spine misalignment into six types.
- Type I – Congenital, related to heredity
- Type II – Isthmic, most common and caused by a slip or fracture (spondylolysis)
- Type III – Degenerative, caused by age-related spinal weakening
- Type IV – Traumatic, a rare condition related to severe injury
- Type V – Pathologic, caused by other diseases like tumors and tuberculosis
- Type VI – Postsurgical, caused by complications after a prior surgery
What are the symptoms of Spondylolisthesis?
Misalignment of the spine causes a wide range of symptoms. The most common are a lower back pain or tenderness that won’t go away, thigh pain, foot tingling, pain that radiates down the leg, and muscle spasms in the hamstring or buttocks.
These symptoms can mimic other low back pain conditions, such as spinal stenosis and herniated disc, so your specialist will order x-rays or an MRI to make the proper diagnosis.
Treating and Diagnosing Spondylolisthesis
It is important to treat the symptoms of spondylolisthesis; otherwise, this condition can progress. It can cause chronic pain and permanent damage, including weakness or leg paralysis. Another complication, known as kyphosis or “roundback,” results when the upper part of the spine falls off the lower half.
Each case is different, and there is a wide range of treatment options. Many people respond well with minimal treatment, and experts recommend starting off with noninvasive treatment.
Talk with a Physician Partners of America Spondylolisthesis Specialists about all your options for overcoming the pain of a misaligned spine.