in Fort Worth TX
What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a displacement of one of the bones of the spine. When the displaced vertebra slips out of its normal location onto the bone beneath it, it may compress a spinal nerve, causing pain. This condition most commonly occurs in the lumbar (lower) region of the back and may occur for a variety of reasons. Spondylolisthesis is graded by radiologists according to the amount of slippage that has occurred, Grade, I being the mildest displacement, and Grade IV the most serious.
What are the Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis?
The severity of spondylolisthesis symptoms is quite variable. Patients with this injury may be completely asymptomatic or may experience symptoms ranging from mild to extremely serious. These symptoms 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 region
Untreated, spondylolisthesis can lead to extreme postural difficulties, including lordosis (swayback) or kyphosis (hunchback). In extreme cases, these postural abnormalities, in turn, can result in diminished lung capacity or neurological problems.
What are the causes of Spondylolisthesis?
A vertebra may slip as a result of a physical injury in which the spine is overextended. Normal wear and tear on the spine and spinal discs may also contribute to the development of spondylolisthesis. In some cases, the problem stems from a genetic predisposition involving vertebral bone that is thinner than normal.
What are the Different Types Of Spondylolisthesis?
There are several different types of spondylolisthesis, differentiated by their causes. At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we care about identifying what kind of Spondylolisthesis you have so we can give you the right treatment.
Isthmic Spondylolisthesis results from a common congenital malformation that may lead to small spinal stress fractures which can decrease bone strength, allowing vertebrae to slip out of place. This variety of disorder commonly occurs in children, but patients usually remain asymptomatic until adulthood.
Degenerative Spondylolisthesis is a prevalent form of the disorder that develops during the aging process when arthritis is common. During natural deterioration, the spinal joints, called facets, wear down and may shift position.
Dysplastic Spondylolisthesis is the result of a very rare congenital defect in which the lumbosacral joint is malformed. This malformation of the spine increases the risk of vertebral slippage.
Traumatic Spondylolisthesis is typically caused by a traumatic impact injury, this type of spondylolisthesis is usually the result of a fracture. Traumatic spondylolisthesis is a very rare variety of this disorder.
Pathologic spondylolisthesis is a form of the disorder that occurs because of underlying bone disease, such as osteoporosis, or as a result of a bone infection or tumor.
When is surgery necessary to treat Spondylolisthesis?
Surgical treatment for spondylolisthesis may become necessary if conservative modalities do not relieve pain caused by nerve irritation. Surgery may also be considered if the spinal segment affected by the slipped vertebra has become unstable or if the spinal function has been severely diminished due to the slip.
Before surgery is considered, doctors usually recommend that patients reduce inflammation to the nerve with rest, medication, bracing, and physical therapy.
The Spondylolisthesis Procedure
The first step when it comes to diagnosing Spondylolisthesis is a physical exam. The reason for this is because you may deal with some difficulties raising your leg during some simple exercises. When we are giving you an examination, our priority is to take a lot of X-Rays. They are crucial for determining whether a vertebra is out of place or not.
Treatment for the various forms of spondylolisthesis is considerably less varied than the subtypes of the disorder itself. Typically, treatment consists of pain management and rehabilitation. We prescribe a regimen of physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for up to 6 months before surgery is even a considerable option. Both conservative treatment and surgery have similar long-term outcomes. However, surgery involves a much greater risk of complications.
When surgery is necessary, we normally perform a spinal fusion, in which we join together two or more vertebrae using a bone graft and metal implants to keep the bones properly placed until bone growth is complete. Cutting-edge technology allows spinal fusion to be performed with an endoscope so that the targeted area is both magnified and illuminated. This technique results in a much smaller incision and a shorter recovery period.
Patients with spondylolisthesis may be advised to wear a back brace to relieve pain and stabilize the area either during conservative treatment or after surgery.
Spondylolisthesis Patient Review
- “The office staff is always so friendly and helpful and I like that I am able to be seen at an office so close to my home. I would recommend Dr. Tinley to anybody who needed a spine specialist.” – Virginia G.
What are the benefits of a Spondylolisthesis procedure?
Whenever possible, spondylolisthesis is treated without surgical intervention. If surgery becomes necessary, it is usually because the condition is causing severe pain and is limiting physical mobility and quality of life. Undergoing minimally-invasive spinal surgery is beneficial for several reasons. The endoscopic procedure carries fewer risks than open spinal surgery. Recovery is typically shorter due to smaller incisions and less tissue trauma. After the brief recovery period, patients are much more comfortable and capable of engaging in their lives.
How long does a Spondylolisthesis procedure take?
Performed using the endoscopic technique, the fusion procedure performed to alleviate spondylolisthesis may be completed in approximately 1 hour. If surgery is necessary, we discuss all aspects of the process, including preparation, the length of the procedure, and expected recovery, during the treatment-planning phase.
What is the recovery process after a Spondylolisthesis procedure?
Endoscopic spinal surgery is sometimes performed on an outpatient basis. Each case is carefully reviewed to ensure this approach is appropriate. Some patients may require a hospital stay of 1 to 4 days so their progress can be monitored by their doctor and nursing staff.
Once home from surgery, patients may require assistance with basic care and daily tasks around the house, such as cooking. It is important to limit physical activity for approximately six weeks after spinal surgery. However, walking and other low-impact activities should be engaged in daily. This helps with recovery and also helps to prevent blood clots due to inactivity.
After Spondylolisthesis surgery (spinal fusion), patients may be prescribed physical therapy to enhance spinal stability through muscle strengthening and flexibility exercises. Routine follow-up appointments may be scheduled every three months.
Are Spondylolisthesis surgery results permanent?
Surgery has a high success rate of achieving good results that enable patients to return to an active life within a few months. While there is no way to prevent continued wear and tear on the spine as one age, the results of spondylolisthesis surgery can remain stable indefinitely.
What are the risks of a Spondylolisthesis procedure?
Every case is unique and may have its own risks. These are taken into consideration and thoughtfully explained during our consultation. Potential risks associated with spinal surgery include reaction to anesthesia, nerve damage, bleeding, and infection. With smaller incisions, each of these risks is minimized.
What happens if I leave Spondylolisthesis untreated?
Untreated spondylolisthesis may worsen, which can cause debilitating pain and permanent damage to the affected spinal segment.
Schedule Your Spondylolisthesis Consultation Today!
If you are experiencing any pain caused by Spondylolisthesis and are interested in back pain treatment, contact our office today at 817-916-4685 to schedule a consultation. DFW Center for Spinal Disorders serves Fort Worth and surrounding areas in Texas.