Spondylolisthesis develops when an injury or deformity pushes one or more spinal vertebrae out of place, which then put pressure on the spinal cord and/or nearby nerves. The two common types of spondylolisthesis are:
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis: The vertebrae lose flexibility and strength (either from natural aging or arthritis) and shrink, swell, and move out of place.
- Spondylotic spondylolisthesis: A break in a lower back bone can cause a vertebra to move out of place.
Some people have spondylolisthesis for many years and do not realize it until the slipped vertebra starts to affect nearby nerves. Then, symptoms can include:
- Leg pain
- Lower back pain
- Burning sensation or numbness in the legs
- Weakness in the legs
Your orthopedic team will first try to treat the pain and discomfort of spondylolisthesis with non-surgical treatment. Treatment options aside from surgery may include:
- Prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain medications
- Injections of steroids or anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy, including exercises to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles
If non-surgical treatment does not relieve the symptoms within six months, surgery may be necessary. The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Health have extensive training in advanced and innovative surgical procedures to treat spondylolisthesis, including:
- Laminectomy, or decompression, removes the bones or ligaments that press on the nerves or spinal cord.
- Spinal fusion unites vertebrae together to help stabilize the spine.