Spondylolisthesis is an often-painful and potentially dangerous condition in which instability causes one of the lower vertebrae in the spine to slip forward onto the vertebrae below it.
What Are the Causes of Spondylolisthesis?
The condition is often preceded by spondylolysis, which is a fracture in one of the vertebrae that have not yet slipped. Causes of spondylolisthesis “vary based on age, heredity, and lifestyle,” said Healthline. “Children may suffer from this condition as a result of a birth defect or injury. However, people of all ages are susceptible if the condition runs in the family. Rapid growth during adolescence may also be a contributing factor.”
Young athletes, like football players, gymnasts, and weightlifters, may also suffer from spondylolisthesis because of the stress to the lower back.
How do you know you have Spondylolisthesis?
Lower back pain is one of the main symptoms of spondylolisthesis, but this common symptom is shared by many conditions. In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), “About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed workdays.”
So, yes, it can be hard to know what you’re dealing with when you have low back pain. It could just be a strain from going too hard at the gym or picking up a heavy bag of dog food. But, then, it could also be a disc injury, sciatica, spinal stenosis, a spinal infection, arthritis, or even cancer.
A person may have had spondylolisthesis since birth and never experienced any symptoms from it. It is common for a person to develop symptoms as they age, however.
Additional symptoms of spondylolisthesis can include: pain in the buttocks or down one or both legs, especially in the hamstrings; muscle weakness in the legs; and difficulty walking or running. In some more severe cases, symptoms can also include “a loss of urination and bowel movement control,” said Medical News Today.
It’s also possible with spondylolisthesis to have no symptoms at all! However, at the first sign of symptoms, it’s important to get checked out by a qualified doctor.
The importance of seeing a doctor
Letting spondylolisthesis progress could be dangerous and extremely painful, and can also lead to permanent structural or nerve damage. Kyphosis, also known as “roundback” or “hunchback” can result in extreme cases. Leg paralysis is also a potential side effect of untreated spondylolisthesis.
Common spondylolisthesis treatment
Thankfully, most people who suffer from spondylolisthesis respond to conservative treatments ranging from rest and anti-inflammatory drugs to physical therapy and bracing. If the slippage is high grade or if more conservative treatments are not working, fusion surgery may be necessary.
Fusions “trick the body into thinking it has a fracture by joining bone with a bone graft or other artificial material,” said Dr. Mark C. Valente, Board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon and founder and Medical Director of the DISC Spine Institute, a leader in minimally invasive back treatments and surgical procedures. “Once completed, the spinal fusion process has many effects: new bone grows around the bone graft spacer; the vertebrae join/fuse together; spine stability increases; and pain in the spine area is reduced.”
For more information, visit the spine specialists in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain today. Minimally invasive surgical techniques mean treating chronic back pain is easier than ever, with outpatient treatments, small incisions, and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.