Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) begins to slip forward. As the vertebra slips forward, it ends up on top of the vertebra beneath it, leading to various uncomfortable symptoms. Every vertebra of the spine has a specific place where it belongs, and when the bones move out of alignment, they may press on nerves and lead to lower back or leg pain. Spondylolisthesis is often confused with spondylolysis, which is a stress fracture or crack in the spine. Proper diagnosis and treatment of spondylolisthesis is crucial to successful healing and the ability to move forward with positive spine health. Learn more about this condition and how OrthoGeorgia’s orthopaedic spine specialists can help you find relief.
What are the Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis?
In young athletes, spondylolisthesis is often triggered by the overextension of the spine. Other causes of this condition include genetics (being born with thinner vertebral bones) or wear and tear on the spine over time. Some people with spondylolisthesis do not experience symptoms and are unaware they have the condition. In those that do experience symptoms, these tend to be the most common:
If you are experiencing symptoms of spondylolisthesis, your physician at OrthoGeorgia will first examine your back and ask you to perform certain movements to check for pain. They will also talk with you about your symptoms to learn more about when they started and what makes them better or worse. Imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRI, may also help your doctor visualize the bones in the spine and assess pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs. From there, your doctor will walk you through your treatment options and answer any questions you have.
Treatment for Spondylolisthesis in Central GA
Nonsurgical Spondylolisthesis Treatment
Treatment for spondylolisthesis will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor will most likely recommend starting with conservative treatment methods, such as avoiding activities that worsen your symptoms, taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, and considering steroid injections to the affected area. A brace may also be used to stabilize the spine in certain cases. Another conservative treatment option for spondylolisthesis is physical therapy.
Physical Therapy for Spondylolisthesis in Central GA
Physical therapy for spondylolisthesis involves specific exercises to improve flexibility, stretch the tight muscles of the hamstrings, and strengthen the muscles in the back and abdomen. Daily exercises, when performed properly, can help to relieve pain in a matter of weeks. Our physical therapists at OrthoGeorgia communicate with our physicians to ensure that each patient’s care is handled with a true team approach. We utilize state-of-the-art equipment to provide comprehensive physical therapy care in Macon (Buildings A and B), Warner Robins, and Kathleen.
Do I Need Surgery for Spondylolisthesis?
In some cases, you may need surgery for spondylolisthesis. Surgery can help when the slippage is severe or progressively worsening or if the patient has back pain that has not improved with nonsurgical treatment methods. Surgery for spondylolisthesis works to relieve pain, stabilize the spine, and restore proper functioning. The two most common procedures to address spondylolisthesis are spinal fusion and lumbar decompression.
Spinal fusion: the displaced vertebrae are fused to the bone beneath them with metal rods, screws, and a bone graft.
Lumbar decompression: normally performed with spinal fusion, this procedure involves the removal of bone from the spine to give the nerves more space within the spinal canal.
Other Spine and Back Conditions We Treat at OrthoGeorgia
Whether you have just started to experience symptoms of spondylolisthesis or are suffering from a chronic spine condition, our orthopaedic specialists at OrthoGeorgia are here for you. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of spine and neck conditions, helping patients live and move more comfortably. We want to help you get back to doing what you love – learn more about the spine conditions and injuries we treat in Central GA below.