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Effective Ways to Manage Spondylolisthesis
November 17, 2020

Effective Ways to Manage Spondylolisthesis

Peter Derman, M.D.

Spondylolisthesis is a common spinal condition. Dr. Peter Derman, an ultra-minimally invasive orthopedic spine surgeon on the medical staff of Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery sees patients suffering from this condition often. In this blog he shares information on causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for spondylolisthesis.

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The spinal column consists of discs, nerves and bones known as vertebrae. Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one vertebra slips in relation to the vertebra adjacent to it. A fracture or even wear and tear over time can cause this to occur. There is significant overlap between the symptoms of spondylolisthesis and other issues in the spine and even problems in the hips and legs. Many people with spondylolisthesis have no symptoms at all; but for those who do, there are some effective ways to manage it. Read on.

 

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

  • Lower back pain

  • Pain in the buttocks

  • Tightness and stiffness in the back and thigh muscles

  • Pain, numbness, and/or tingling that radiates down the legs

  • Heaviness in the legs when walking


Causes of Spondylolisthesis

    • A birth defect in the spine

    • An acute fracture in the spine

    • A chronic stress fracture in the spine

    • Age-related wear and tear

 

How Spondylolisthesis is Diagnosed
Your doctor should listen to your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. Imaging studies such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are also frequently used to help make the diagnosis and guide treatment with a goal of reducing pain and enabling patients to return to their normal activities.


Non-Surgical Treatment
Your doctor will likely first recommend non-surgical treatment as most cases of spondylolisthesis respond well to this. This may encompass a combination of:

    • Physical therapy

    • Rest and activity modification

    • Muscle relaxers

    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications

    • Weight loss

    • Quitting smoking

    • Targeted steroid injections to the spine

 

Surgical Treatment
Surgery may be considered in the treatment of spondylolisthesis when symptoms do not respond to non-operative measures. Surgery is more likely in cases involving severe slippage or when there is associated pinching of nerves that causes weakness or other neurologic problems. The traditional surgical treatment for spondylolisthesis was fusion. However, advances in the understanding of this condition as well as minimally invasive techniques for managing it have allowed for successful non-fusion operations in select cases.


Wrap Up
Minimally invasive spine surgery can be used to address a multitude of spine problems, including spondylolisthesis. Choose an experienced spine doctor to help guide your treatment. If you are experiencing the symptoms of spondylolisthesis or any spine condition, a reputable spine and orthopedic referral center can help you connect with the right physician and get you on the road to recovery.