Spondylolisthesis: Causes and Treatments

With so many diseases and conditions out there, taking care of your spine’s health is essential to your daily routine. Without the spine’s support, which connects different parts of your musculoskeletal system, it would be challenging to sit, stand, walk, twist and bend.

One of the conditions that can affect your body’s central support structure is known as spondylolisthesis.

What is Spondylolisthesis?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition affecting the lower vertebrae where a “stress fracture weakens the bone so much that it is unable to maintain its proper position in the spine — and the vertebra starts to shift or slip out of place.”

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis will begin as spondylolysis, a condition where a crack or stress fracture develops through the pars interarticularis. Some of the common symptoms of these conditions include:

  • Lower back tenderness and pain
  • Stiffness in the back and legs
  • Thigh pain
  • Tightness in the hamstrings and buttock muscles

It’s possible that, in mild cases, you may not experience any symptoms, but in extreme cases, it may be difficult to perform daily activities.

What Are Some Common Causes of Spondylolisthesis?

The causes of spondylolisthesis will vary depending on who’s affected by the condition. For example:

  • In children – this condition will develop as a birth defect in the spine. It’s also believed that some people are born with a thinner than usual vertebral bone.
  • In adolescents – apart from being a defect from birth, adolescents that experience rapid growth are more susceptible to this condition.

In athletes – sports such as football, gymnastics, track and field, and weightlifting can cause the spine to overstretch, put stress on your lower back, and lead to spondylolisthesis.

What’s The Best Treatment Option For Spondylolisthesis?

Does spondylolisthesis simply go away? Unfortunately, leaving this condition untreated can lead to chronic pain and a loss of flexibility. 

The first treatment options to reduce symptoms are those that are non-surgical, such as:

  1. Rest. Especially if this condition is due to an injury, resting will reduce the amount of stress placed on the lower spine.
  2. Medications. Some symptoms arise from inflammation, so taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help with the pain.
  3. Physical therapy. Exercise, when done correctly, can help improve flexibility, stretch tight hamstring muscles, and strengthen your back and abdomen. The purpose of physical therapy is to alleviate stress on the lower back.
  4. Spine manipulation. Aside from physical therapy, your chiropractor can also provide manual manipulation to reduce pain by mobilizing painful joint dysfunction.

When the case of spondylolisthesis is severe and non-surgical treatments aren’t helping, then your next step is surgery. Spinal fusion is a surgery that permanently connects two or more vertebrae in your spine to eliminate motion between them.

Award-Winning Spinal Care

The health and wellness of your spine are of the utmost importance for the clinical team at Spine Health & Wellness. We’re dedicated to providing you with comprehensive and conservative treatments to benefit your overall health.

After an extensive examination based on your discomfort or pain, we’re able to assess your condition and get you back on track with a personalized and effective care plan for rapid recovery. Contact us today to set up your appointment!

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