Spondylolisthesis refers to a condition in which one vertebra (the bone that makes up the spinal column) slips out of position and onto the bone below it. In adults, this is usually a result of arthritis, bone disease or bone fractures and typically occurs in the lower back. Symptoms range from mild to debilitating depending on the degree of slippage and the surrounding structures affected. The defect can cause deformity of the spine.
Symptoms of spondylolisthesis include: muscle stiffness, thigh/buttock pain, tenderness in the area of the slippage. If nerves are compressed by the slipped vertebra, this can result in more severe symptoms. A diagnosis of spondylolisthesis can be made by taking a patient's history, performing a physical exam and reviewing diagnostic images such as x-ray, CT scan or MRI.
Treatment is designed based on the severity of a patient's condition. Non-invasive treatment options such as exercises, pain medications, bracing or physical therapy will generally be tried first. If these therapies do not provide adequate relief, patients may need evaluation by a neurosurgeon to explore surgical options. Surgical treatment generally involves stabilizing the position of the vertebrae with spinal fusion. Results are generally very good, especially for patients who avoid further injury to the spinal column and are in good overall health.