Spondylolisthesis is a displacement of the anterior vertebrae, most commonly occurring in the lumbar (lower) spine. This slipped vertebra misaligns part of the spinal column and must be treated as soon as it is discovered in order to prevent serious complications from developing.
Symptoms associated with spondylolisthesis often include:
- Lower back pain
- Upper leg pain
- Gluteal/buttocks pain
- Oversensitive nerves near the slipped vertebrae
- Stiffness and muscle tightness
If it remains untreated, spondylolisthesis can result in increased lordosis (swayback) or kyphosis (roundback), which can in turn lead to a pronounced slouching position, neurological deficits and decreased lung capacity.
Types of Spondylolisthesis
There are several different types of spondylolisthesis, ranging from fairly common divisions to rare congenital defects:
Isthmic Spondylolisthesis considered the most common form of spondylolisthesis. It normally develops in children between the ages of five and 17, often causing no symptoms. The slip in the vertebra normally does not progress beyond its initial movement, and is thus is only treated if the slip is considered “high grade” (less than 10% of all slips), meaning that the vertebra is 50% or more displaced off of the inferior bone segment.
Degenerative Spondylolisthesis a common form of spondylolisthesis that develops naturally as a person ages due to the prevalence of arthritis in the elderly. As the facets wear down over time, they shift their orientation slightly, allowing a mild slip to occur. These slips are asymptomatic and usually are not found until spinal stenosis has exacerbated the slip. This combination of spine ailments is the most frequent indication of spine surgery in the elderly population.
Dysplastic Spondylolisthesis a very rare congenital defect concerning the malformation of the lumbosacral junction, also known as spondylolysis. Specifically, the facet joints are extremely underdeveloped and possess little surface area, which prevents treatment via posterolateral fusion.
Traumatic Spondylolisthesis also a very rare subtype, characterized by a fracture of the pars interarticularis or interior facets that occurs as a result of a severe impact.
Pathologic Spondylolisthesis an extremely rare type of spondylolisthesis that only occurs in the presence of equally rare metabolic bone diseases.