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What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips forward over the vertebra beneath it.
What are the causes of Spondylolisthesis?
While spinal columns are very strong, they are subject to a host of problems, many of which can cause painful narrowing. Some of the underlying causes of spinal stenosis include:
Additional common Spondylolisthesis causes include:
- Age-related wear and tear, which can lead to Degenerative Disc Disease
- Other conditions, such as arthritis, bone spurs, herniated discs, spondylolisthesis and others
- Back or neck strain due to repetitive physical activity, poor posture, imbalances in the musculature, or heavy lifting
- Direct physical injuries such as a car accident or fall
- Genetics, whether or not the symptoms appeared in your parents
You also may develop spondylolisthesis if you have any of a number of health problems that weaken the structural integrity of your spinal column. These problems include spinal tumors and osteoporosis, and spinal infections. You can also develop symptoms of the condition if you undergo a surgical procedure that produces forward slippage in your spine. Symptoms
Some people with spondylolisthesis have no obvious symptoms, while others develop a host of symptoms that vary in their severity. While the condition usually affects the lumbar–or lower–spine, it can occur in other regions. Symptoms include:
Common symptoms of Spondylolisthesis include:
- Back and leg pain. The most common symptoms of spondylolisthesis are pain in your lower back (lumbar spine region) and pain in one or both of your legs.
- Sciatica. When the shifting of your spinal bones produces pressure on the sciatic nerve, the resulting condition is called sciatica.
- Lordosis and Kyphosis symptoms. In some cases, spondylolisthesis can produce a symptom called Lordosis (also known as swayback), or Kyphosis (also known as roundback).
- In the cervical spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the neck, arms, hands, and sometimes in the head.
- In the thoracic spine (less common): pain in the mid or upper back, radiating through the stomach or chest, which patients often confuse for cardiovascular problems.
Prior to having a surgical procedure to treat your spondylolisthesis, conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and steroid injections should be attempted. If these measures do not meaningfully relieve your pain, a North American Spine procedure may be in order.
What is the treatment like for Spondylolisthesis?
Treatment and procedure options for Spondylolisthesis range from conservative options like injections to more intensive procedures like spinal fusions.
Conservative Options Conservative treatment options include nerve root blocks and steroid injections. These are designed to provide temporary relief (up to one year), and you may elect to have the procedure done multiple times. Other conservative strategies may include the placement of a spinal cord stimulator–or STIM–which is designed not to correct the underlying degeneration, but to lessen the pain the condition causes.
Decompression Decompression may be used for cases in which the structural integrity of the vertebrae or spinal cord is not threatened. These procedures concentrate on freeing entrapped nerves, typically be enlarging the space through which nerves pass. Depending on the demands of the procedure and your unique physiology, a special surgical laser may be used.
Fusion/Stablization Fusion, also called stabilization, procedures may be used when the stability of the spine or vertebrae are compromised or threatened. In some of these cases, more than one harmful condition may exist. While these procedures are minimally invasive and enjoy a high success rate, some patients may be required to stay overnight for observation.
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