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by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Slipped Vertebra)

Definition

Spondylolisthesis is when one a vertebra (spinal bone) slips forward onto the vertebra below it. It happens slowly over time.

Spondylolisthesis
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Causes

Causes may be:

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

Symptoms

Most people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have:

  • Back pain and stiffness
  • Pain that may spread down to the legs
  • Muscle spasms in the back of the thighs
  • Problems standing and walking
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Images may be taken of the spine. This can be done with:

Treatment

People who do not have symptoms may not need treatment. In others, the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:

  • Supportive care, such as limiting activities to allow the area to rest
  • Physical therapy to promote strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the back
  • A back brace to stabilize the spine
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Pain relievers
    • Muscle relaxants

People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. It may also be done if the bone has severely slipped. Spinal fusion may be done to fuse two vertebrae together to stabilize the spine.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES

North American Spine Society  http://www.spine.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons  http://www.orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association  http://www.coa-aco.org 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation  http://www.canorth.org 

References

Abdu WA, Sacks OA, et al. Long-term results of surgery compared with non operative treatment for lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis in the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT). Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2018;43(23):1619-1630.

Bouras T, Korovessis P. Management of spondylolysis and low-grade spondylolisthesis in fine athletes. A comprehensive review. Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2015 Jul;25 Suppl 1:S167-S175

Gould HP, Winkelman RD, et al. Epidemiology, treatment, and performance-based outcomes in American professional baseball players with symptomatic spondylolysis and isthmic spondylolisthesis. Amer J Sports Med. 2020;48(11):2765-2773.

Kukreja M, Hecht AC, et al. Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis in the Adolescent Athlete. Sem Spine Surg.Volume 32, Issue 3, 2020,100804, ISSN 1040-7383, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semss.2020.100804.

Randall RM, Silverstein M, et al. Review of pediatric spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. Sports Med Arthr Rev.2016;24(4):184-187.

Spondylolisthesis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/spondylolisthesis. Accessed February 18, 2021.

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/spondylolysis-and-spondylolisthesis. Accessed February 18, 2021.

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