The Displacement of a Vertebra

The spine is susceptible to a number of disorders as a result of both degenerative and traumatic conditions. At miVIP, our spinal surgery center is equipped with advanced technology that assists our surgeons in identifying and treating any and all spinal conditions.

Spondylolisthesis is a displacement of vertebra that often occurs at the spine’s base. It is possible that the vertebra will slip forward, backward or even over the bone situated below.

How Common is Spondylolisthesis

About 5 percent of the population suffers from spondylolisthesis.

What Causes Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is often caused by:

  • Dysplasia – Dysplastic spondylolisthesis is a birth defect of the vertebra which allows the joint to slip forward.
  • Repetition – Isthmic spondylolisthesis is caused by a defect in the pars interacticularis portion of the vertebrae. It is most commonly a result of repetitive trauma. Athletes are at risk of this form of displacement.
  • Degeneration – Degenerative spondylolisthesis is prevalent when arthritis affects the joints as a result of cartilage deterioration. This is most commonly seen in elderly patients.
  • Trauma – Degenerative spondylolisthesis is caused by acute trauma of the vertebral joints, arches, or plates.
  • Tumors – Pathologic spondylolisthesis is seen in patients with tumors or other growths that cause bone defects.

Spondylolisthesis Symptoms

Symptoms of spondylolisthesis generally include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Tightness in the hamstrings
  • Decreased lower back range of motion
  • Pain, weakness, tingling or numbness of the legs
  • Incontinence, in extreme cases

How to Treat Spondylolisthesis

As with all spinal conditions, physicians will first try and take a conservative approach such as:

  • Medication – Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to control the inflammation of the nerves and muscles, as well as reduce pain.
  • Physical Therapy – Increased mobility of the lower spine and hamstrings is an effective method of treatment in some cases. It is also important to focus on strengthening the core muscles of the abdomen to improve posture, subsequently minimizing pain and injury.
  • Injections – Steroid injections can be effective for those who experience numbness, pain and tingling. However, this treatment is limited in the number of times it can be administered each year.
  • Braces – Patients with isthmic spondylolisthesis have responded well to hyperextension braces. They bring two sections of the spine closure and promote healing.
After conservative methods have been exhausted, spinal surgery should be considered. In most cases, two surgical procedures are performed:

  • Laminectomy – The section of the bone pressing on the nerves is removed. This can cause an unstable spine and is often followed by a fusion.
  • Spinal Fusion – A section of bone is relocated to the back of the spine. Once the bone heals, it will fuse with the spine helping to immobilize it.

Spondylolisthesis Prognosis

In minor cases, conservative treatment of spondylolisthesis can completely heal the disorder in about 80 percent of individuals. Additionally, between 85 and 90 percent of people report that surgery relieved any symptoms associated with spondylolisthesis.

Turn to the Spinal Experts at miVIP

To schedule an appointment with our spinal surgeons, or for more spondylolisthesis information, call miVIP Surgery Centers at 855-496-4847.