Lumbar vertebrae are aligned one atop the other. However sometimes due to trauma, disease or congenital defects, a lumbar vertebra slips forward. This is known as spondylolisthesis.

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

As the vertebra slips forward, it can compress the nerves in the spinal canal or the nerves in the open spaces on the sides of the vertebrae (foramen). This can lead to symptoms such as:

  • lower back pain
  • tight or spasming hamstrings
  • pain shooting down the leg
  • weak or numb legs
  • numb or tingling feet

In some cases, there are no symptoms at all. Severe spondylolisthesis can affect a person’s posture and gait. An individual with spondylolisthesis might lean forward or walk with a waddle. Left untreated, serious nerve damage can cause a loss of bladder or bowel control.

Causes of Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis can be caused by a birth defect. Sometimes it’s caused by trauma, such as a fall or a car accident. It also can be a product of an overuse injury, which is caused by repetitive stress on the vertebral bone. Disease and tumors can also cause spondylolisthesis. In adults, arthritis and a loss of disc elasticity can lead to spondylolisthesis.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options

Treatment options for spondylolisthesis depends upon the severity of the condition. Rest, anti-inflammatory medications, back brace and physical therapy may provide relief. If not, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive spine surgery to relieve the pressure on your nerves or to stabilize your spine.

Surgical Options for Spondylolisthesis

A spinal fusion joins two or more vertebrae together to provide stability to the spine. Depending upon the pathology, the fusion may be either:

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) – During an ALIF, the disc space is fused by approaching the spine through the abdomen instead of through the lower back.

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) – During a PLIF, the disc space is fused by approaching the spine through the lower back.

Direct Lumbar Interbody Fusion (DLIF) – During a DLIF, the disc space is fused by approaching the spine through the side instead of through the lower back.

Do you or someone you care about have questions about Spondylolisthesis or the minimally invasive spine procedures offered by DISC of Louisiana? If so, please contact us to schedule an evaluation at one of our clinics across the south Louisiana region.

Glossary of terms:

Lumbar Vertebrae —the five vertebrae between the rib cage and the pelvis

Spinal Canal — the cavity through each of the vertebrae which contains the spinal cord

Foramen — the hollow, bony archway between adjacent vertebrae that create a passageway for spinal nerves to travel out to the organs, muscles and sensory structures of the body

DISC of Louisiana Locations

New Orleans | Hammond | Slidell | Covington | Metairie | Baton Rouge | Gonzales

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