Accessibility Tools

What Is Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a spinal bone (vertebra) slips out of place in the spinal column. This condition develops most frequently in the lower back, mainly because that region supports the majority of the body’s weight and sustains a significant amount of pressure during movement. Gymnasts, dancers, weightlifters, football players and other athletes are particularly susceptible to developing spondylolisthesis due to the tremendous amount of stress that many of their activities place on the spine.

What does it feel like to have spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis can produce localized pain around the area of vertebral slippage in the neck or back, as well as referred pain in seemingly unrelated areas of the body. Oftentimes, the symptoms result not from the slippage itself, but rather from the associated spinal nerve compression. A compressed nerve can produce radiating pain, numbness, tingling sensations or muscle weakness in a shoulder, arm and hand or a buttock, leg and foot.

How is spondylolisthesis treated?

Mild-to-moderate discomfort associated with spondylolisthesis can usually be treated conservatively. Some options include:

  • Medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be helpful for relieving pain and inflammation, and several effective options are readily available over the counter.
  • Spinal injections – Powerful corticosteroid medications can be injected directly into a painful area of the spine. Injections may be administered individually or as part of a series over time.
  • Physical therapy – Targeted stretches and exercises can be beneficial for relieving painful spondylolisthesis symptoms while at the same time increasing spinal strength and flexibility.
  • Regular exercise – Low-impact activities, such as walking, cycling and swimming, can boost blood circulation, which in turn can promote healing. High-impact activities, such as running and contact sports, should be avoided because they can further stress the spine and worsen spondylolisthesis symptoms.

In general, conservative therapy should be attempted for several months before any type of surgery is considered. If the symptoms persist or worsen during this time, a surgical procedure may be recommended.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we offer a comprehensive range of spondylolisthesis treatment options — both surgical and conservative — to residents of Houston, Texas. Our spine specialists can assess your condition and recommend an individualized treatment plan for you.

To learn more about our approach to spondylolisthesis treatment, contact Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, today.