Get relief from lower back pain at Medical City Spine Hospital

Spondylolisthesis, a condition in which a bone in the spine slips out of place and can press on a nerve, causing pain, is seen in both teenagers and adults. Medical City Spine Hospital offers a range of treatments for spondylolisthesis, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Common types of spondylolisthesis include:

  • Congenital, which is present at birth and results from abnormal bone formation.
  • Isthmic, a condition that leads to small stress fractures in the vertebrae that weaken the bone, causing it to slip out of place. This is often caused by spondylolysis.
  • Degenerative, which is the most common, and is caused when aging discs in the spine become less spongy and flexible.

For teens, spondylolisthesis is the most common cause of back pain. Symptoms that have been present since birth often don’t present themselves until a growth spurt. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is most common after age 40.

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What is the difference between spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis is the most common cause of isthmic spondylolisthesis. It occurs when one vertebra slips forward over another. Isthmic spondylolisthesis is a common cause of back pain in adolescents and teenagers, yet many do not experience pain or symptoms.

In addition, spondylolysis refers only to bone separations in a small arch at the back of the spine, while spondylolisthesis occurs when vertebra slip over one another in front of the spine.

Diagnosis and treatment of spondylolisthesis

For most patients, an X-ray of the lower back can reveal any vertebra that may be out of place. In some cases, more detailed images are needed. In that case, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to see bones and nerves more clearly.

Treatment options depend on several factors, including age, overall health, extent of slippage in the spine and severity of symptoms. Physical therapy, including rest, exercise and medication, are often used in less severe cases.

However, if the vertebra continues to slip or pain is not relieved through non-surgical options, then surgery may be necessary to stabilize the spine. The surgical options include:

  • Decompressive laminectomy, a procedure that involves removing part of the bone that presses against nerves. This is known to reduce pain but can also affect the stability of the spine.
  • Spinal fusion: This procedure transplants a piece of bone to the back of the spine. As the bone heals, it fuses with the spine, creating a solid mass of bone. In some cases, rods or screws are used to hold the vertebra while the fusion heals.

There are also ways to prevent spondylolisthesis

While not entirely preventable, you can take these steps to reduce your risk of surgery or physical therapy:

  • Maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting stress on your lower back.
  • Keep your back and abdominal muscles strong and toned.
  • Choose activities and sports that don’t put strain on your lower back.
  • Keep your bones strong and well-nourished with a well-balanced diet.