Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which spine vertebrae slip out of place and usually occurs in the lower back. Spondylolisthesis can result from injury, a stress fracture, degenerative arthritis, or even a genetic weakness of the vertebrae. While a common cause in adults is degenerative arthritis, Spondylolisthesis is often found in young people who participate in sports, particularly athletic activities that place repeated stress on the lower back.
Spondylolisthesis can be classified as “low-grade” or “high-grade,” depending upon the amount of slippage. A high-grade slippage describes vertebrae that is more that has moved more than 50% of its width.
Not all instances show symptoms. When there are symptoms, Spondylolisthesis often presents as lower back pain that may feel like a muscle strain. Radiating nerve pain, numbness, and weakness can also develop. Left untreated, this can lead to muscle spasms, back stiffness, and difficulty walking.
Patients with low-grade Spondylolisthesis can often be treated using nonsurgical methods, including rest, the use of NSAIDs, and physical therapy. More severe high-grade conditions may require surgical treatment to stabilize the spine, reduce pain, and prevent further slippage. With proper treatment, most patients recover and return to normal activities, including sports.
A well-known thought leader in sports medicine, Dr. Johnson has extensive experience in treating degenerative spinal disorders and co-authored publications on the Surgical Repair of Spondylolysis in Athletes in the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Journal of Neurosurgery.
The information provided on this website should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition and is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. If you think you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of a physician. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.