This is a condition that is characterized by a “slip” on one of the bones of the spine over another. It can be caused by an injury early in life known as a pars defect. These are common in gymnasts and offensive lineman. Any severe extension of your spine can cause this. This can also develop over time due to degenerative processes of the spine.
Many patients can live with this condition without even knowing it. However, as the slip becomes severe, it can put pressure on the nerves and spinal cord and cause spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal. This can be treated with conservative techniques such as physical therapy, core strengthening, and bracing. Epidural steroid injections can be very helpful as well. Sometimes symptoms are too severe or it begins to progress over time, and surgical stabilization is then needed. Please see our treatment section for a more detailed explanation of epidural steroid injection and lumbar interbody fusion.