Spondylolisthesis is a painful condition that occurs when a vertebra slips from its normal place in the spine, most commonly sliding over the vertebra that lies right beneath it. The condition affects both children and adults, and is usually found in the lower back.
Chances are good that if you or someone close to you havenâ€™t suffered from spondylolisthesis, youâ€™ve never heard of it. But while it may not be one of the more commonly discussed back disorders, there are more than three million documented cases of spondylolisthesis every year.
This condition can be chronic, lasting for many years, but is easily treatable by qualified medical professionals.
â€śSpondyâ€ť means spine and â€ślisthesisâ€ť means slip. Spondylolisthesis refers to one vertebrae shifting or slipping forward or backwards relative to the adjacent vertebrae. This is a sign of instability of the spine, and the condition can cause significant back or neck pain.
The most common causes of spondylolisthesis are from degenerative changes in the spine with age or from a fracture of the weakest portion of the vertebrae, theÂ pars interarticularis. When the pars interarticularis fractures (breaks) this is referred to asÂ spondylolysis. When the fracture of the pars leads to a slip of one vertebrae on the other, the term applied isÂ isthmic spondylolisthesis.
Symptoms of spondylolisthesis can range from general lower back pain to muscle stiffness in the back or legs; pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs or buttocks; and tenderness around the area of displacement. In advanced cases, there may be tightening of the hamstrings, a forward-leaning posture, or a waddling gait due to atrophy of the gluteal muscles from lack of use.