Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition characterized by the displacement of one vertebra over an adjacent vertebra. This displacement can occur in various degrees, ranging from mild to severe, and it may lead to a range of symptoms depending on the extent of slippage.

Causes

Several factors contribute to the development of spondylolisthesis. The most common causes include:

  1. Isthmic Spondylolisthesis: Resulting from a stress fracture in the pars interarticularis, often seen in young athletes.
  2. Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: Caused by wear and tear on the spinal discs and facet joints, typically seen in older adults.
  3. Traumatic Spondylolisthesis: Arising from acute injuries or fractures to the spine.
  4. Dysplastic Spondylolisthesis: Present at birth and caused by abnormal spine development.
  5. Pathologic Spondylolisthesis: Caused by tumors, bone conditions, or previous spinal surgery.

Symptoms

Symptoms of spondylolisthesis can vary and may include:

  • Back Pain: Often exacerbated by movement and relieved with rest.
  • Leg Pain: Resulting from nerve compression due to the displaced vertebra.
  • Weakness or Numbness: Caused by irritation of nerve roots affected by the slippage.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing spondylolisthesis involves a thorough medical examination and imaging studies. X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT) scans are commonly used to assess the degree of slippage and identify associated abnormalities.

Spondylolisthesis Treatment Options

  1. Non-Operative Treatment:
    • Rest: Periods of reduced activity to alleviate stress on the spine.
    • Physical Therapy: Focuses on improving posture, balance, and strengthening supportive muscles.
    • Medications: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and pain management.
    • Spinal Injections: Such as epidural steroid injections for pain relief.
  2. Surgery:
    • Indications: Severe pain, progressive symptoms, or failure of non-operative measures.
    • Procedures: Surgical options include fusion surgery to stabilize the spine, addressing nerve compression and strengthening the affected area.
    • Minimally Invasive Approaches: Depending on the specific case, less invasive surgical techniques may be considered.

The choice between non-operative and surgical approaches depends on the severity of symptoms, the degree of slippage, and the patient’s overall health. A comprehensive evaluation by our spine specialists is essential to determine the most appropriate course of action for each individual with spondylolisthesis.

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