One of the most common conditions that presents to our Mesa, AZ Spine Surgery Center is Spondylolisthesis. This condition can cause a variety of symptoms, such as lower back and leg pain, among others:
What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine that occurs when one of the vertebrae (spinal bone) of the slips forward on the vertebra below. This forward slippage of the vertebra can cause pain and discomfort in the back or neck, especially if it slides far forward or compresses one or more of the nerves of the spine. This condition most often occurs at the lumbar spine (lower back) and in some individuals can go undetected for years, causing nagging lower back pain or aching.
Types of Spondylolisthesis
There are a number of different types of spondylolisthesis. These include:
Degenerative spondylolisthesis: Typically occurring after age 40, this is the most common form that occurs when aging causes the discs between each vertebra to be reduced in their ability to resist the weight and movement of the vertebra. This will cause a vertebra to shift and slide forward.
Congenital spondylolisthesis: This type of spondylolisthesis is present at birth as a consequence of abnormal bone formation. This abnormal bone formation might not produce any symptoms at all until much later in life (spondylolisthesis is one of the most common causes of lower back pain in teens.)
Isthmic spondylolisthesis: This type of spondylolisthesis occurs when degeneration in the spine leads to tiny fractures in the bone, which can weaken the bone to the point that it slides forward and out of proper position.
Traumatic spondylolisthesis: As the name implies, traumatic injury to the spine might produce fracture, which as a consequence leads to forward slippage of a vertebra.
Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis
As mentioned above, a great number of people with spondylolisthesis may experience no symptoms at all. When symptoms of spondylolisthesis do occur, lower back pain is the most commonly reported symptoms. The typically reported pain pattern is pain that spreads across the lower back in a pattern resembling a belt that often feels like a “pulled muscle”. Spondylolisthesis may also cause muscle tightness in the hamstring muscles. This is often evident when a person is noted as standing or walking with slightly bent knees. If the distance of slippage of the vertebra is far enough, it may compress one or more spinal nerves. In this case the patient may experience pain, numbness and tingling that spreads into the leg.
How is Spondylolisthesis diagnosed?
Spondylolisthesis can be diagnosed by a trained orthopedic spine surgeon. Typically, the diagnosis is achieved by a patient history and physical examination, which leads the surgeon to suspect spondylolisthesis. He will typically order a specific type of X-ray, which will reveal a vertebra that has shifted forward and clearly out of place.
Treatment for spondylolisthesis ranges from conservative to surgery, mostly dependent the severity of the vertebral slippage and associated symptoms. Conservative treatment options include rest and pain medication to Physical therapy. When these options are not viable, surgery might be considered. There are several surgical options, which are discussed on this website.
If you are a Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert or Mesa resident seeking a Spine Surgeon for the treatment of your Spondylolisthesis, we would be happy to see you at Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center.