Spondylolisthesis — Lots of Vowels. Lots of Pain.
- Posted on: Oct 15 2018
Most people have never heard the word spondylolisthesis, much less tried to spell or pronounce it. But if you’ve had this condition where a vertebra slips out of its normal location onto the bone beneath it, you probably know it all too well. Spondylolisthesis can lead to nerve compression, and that means back and often leg pain.
Spondylolisthesis is most common in the lumbar spine. It is graded by the amount of slippage that has occurred with Grade IV being the most serious.
We diagnose and treat spondylolisthesis at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders.
What are the common symptoms of spondylolisthesis?
When a vertebra slips out of position, you’d be surprised to know that some patients still have no symptoms. But otherwise, symptoms vary from mild to extremely serious. They may include:
- Lower back pain
- Upper leg pain
- Leg weakness
- Pain in the buttocks
- Tight hamstring muscles
- Extreme tenderness at the slippage site
- Stiffness, numbness, or tingling in the area
If left untreated, spondylolisthesis can lead to extreme postural difficulties, including swayback and hunchback. These posture issues can compress lung capacity and lead to neurological problems.
While there are many different varieties of spondylolisthesis, treatments are much more consistent. Treatment consists of pain management and rehabilitation. In most cases, we prescribe a regimen of physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. This approach is always used for at least six months before surgery is even considered.
If conservative treatments are not addressing the chronic pain, surgery may be necessary. In most cases, this will involve spinal fusion. We fuse the two (or sometimes more) vertebrae where the slippage has occurred. To maintain the proper spacing, we’ll place metal implants between the fused vertebrae. Whereas this surgery formerly involved cutting muscle to access the spine, it can now be accessed endoscopically. This technique has the same final results, but requires a much small incision and makes for a far easier recovery period.
Posted in: Spondylolisthesis