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Information on spondylolistheses and how it can be treated by the experts at Laser Spine Institute in Philadelphia

What is spondylolisthesis?

While it may sound complicated, spondylolisthesis is the word used to describe vertebral slippage, specifically the displacement of one vertebra over another. This condition varies greatly in severity, and most often occurs in the lower (lumbar) region of the spine, since this area endures large amounts of stress caused by the twisting and lifting motions that we perform on a daily basis.

How is spondylolisthesis diagnosed?

Only a physician can provide you with a definitive spondylolisthesis diagnosis. Usually, spondylolisthesis will be diagnosed after you have discussed your symptoms with your physician and received a medical imaging test, such as an MRI, X-ray or CT scan, to confirm the vertebral slippage.

What causes spondylolisthesis?

There are two main causes of spondylolisthesis – natural degeneration due to aging, and injury due to participation in high-impact sports. As aging occurs, the parts of the spine begin to weaken, making them less able to hold their proper position. Those who participate in activities that put excess stress on the spine, such as football, weightlifting and gymnastics, are at a higher risk for developing spondylolisthesis. Other factors that can cause spondylolisthesis can include fractures in the spine’s facet joints, tumors and birth defects.

What are some common symptoms of spondylolisthesis?

The symptoms caused by spondylolisthesis depend on the severity of each individual’s vertebral slippage. For example, those with a grade 1 slippage (less than 25 percent) may have no symptoms at all, or symptoms that are less severe than those with a grade 5 (100 percent) slippage. Even a slight displacement of a vertebra, however, can cause compression of the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root. When spondylolisthesis causes nerve compression, individuals may experience back pain or tenderness, muscle spasms, limited mobility, tingling, numbness, stiffness in the hamstrings and buttock pain.

How is spondylolisthesis treated?

Treatment for spondylolisthesis usually beings with conservative methods such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stretching, physical therapy, low-impact exercise and spinal bracing. These methods aim to manage a patient’s pain rather than address the vertebral slippage itself. In many cases, conservative treatment is all that is necessary to alleviate the symptoms associated with spondylolisthesis.

Does spondylolisthesis require surgery?

Surgery is typically only recommended for patients with spondylolisthesis in the event that several weeks or months of conservative treatment do not provide sufficient relief. In this case, residents of Philadelphia, PA, can turn to the experts at Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified surgeons + perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to treat spondylolisthesis, and we have helped more than 75,000 patients reclaim their lives from neck and back pain since 2005. Our minimally invasive surgeries have many advantages over traditional open spine surgery, including reduced risk of infection and shorter recovery time.^ Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about how our advanced procedures might be able to help relieve your spondylolisthesis symptoms and improve your quality of life. We are happy to review* your MRI at no cost to determine if you are a candidate for our procedures.