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SPONDYLOLISTHESIS

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis (“SPON-die-low-liss-THEE-sis”) is a common spinal condition affecting the lower vertebrae. It occurs when the lower vertebrae begin to slip forward onto the bones directly beneath them. It is often caused by sports-related injuries, but it can also be present at birth (congenital spondylolisthesis). Although it is a painful condition, it is treatable, and most patients see improvement with nonoperative therapies.

Symptoms of spondylolisthesis include:

  • Lower back pain that may feel like a strain
  • Increasing pain with activity, including when bending backward
  • Diminished pain with rest
  • Pain radiating down the legs
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Tight hamstrings and quadricep muscles

Diagnosing & Treating Spondylolisthesis

Diagnosis is made through a physical exam, imaging tests like X-rays or CT/MRI scans, and taking a patient history. For most patients, spondylolisthesis improves with conservative, nonoperative treatment that begins with a period of rest from physical exertion. Left untreated, the condition can cause serious tingling, numbness, or weakness in the legs resulting from pressure on the spinal nerve root.

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