The Vault

Cervical Disc Herniation and Treatment Options
February 21, 2017
Lumbar Disc Herniation
February 24, 2017

Spondylolisthesis and Treatment Options

Spondylolisthesis is a condition that occurs when individual vertebrae in the spinal column move so that it is out of alignment with the one below it. The vertebrae can slip forward, backward, or to either side causing nerve or spinal cord compression. The problem most often happens in the lumbar or sacral area of the back and is twice as common in men. The disorder can be present in older children due to repetitive trauma associated with sports, and among seniors due to years of wear and tear. There are five types of spondylolisthesis, with each graded on a scale of one to five based on the severity of misalignment.

Symptoms typically found in cases of spondylolisthesis include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back,
  • Weakness, tightness, numbness, or tingling in both legs
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Back, leg, and buttock pain when bending over
  • Loss of control of bladder or bowels
  • Walking with a “duck-like” gait pattern or a limp

Some individuals experience no symptoms at all when the first event occurs, with warning signs showing up in later years.

Several factors trigger spondylolisthesis such as:

  • Joint damage from trauma
  • Vertebral stress fracture due to overuse
  • Joint breakdown from infection, arthritis, or common degeneration
  • Tumor in the joint area
  • Defective joint present at birth
  • Surgery

People with a family history of a spinal joint problem called spondylosis are at a higher risk of developing spondylolisthesis.

A physician will identify spondylolisthesis by performing physical and neurological exams and assessing current symptoms.  Specific diagnostic testing such as x-ray, MRI, CT scans, and PET imaging will show the location and severity of the vertebral shift.

Treatment of this condition begins with a conservative approach. Tylenol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can control pain, with physical therapy and weight loss prescribed to strengthen and reduce strain on the affected site. If pain and physical limitations persist, epidural injections or surgical procedures like decompression or fusion can be options.

If you suffer from spondylolisthesis and would like to find out if you are a candidate for the treatment options we provide, please call us at either our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.

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