• Spondylolisthesis

    (Slipped Vertebra)

    Definition

    The spine is made of several bones called vertebra. They are lined up so the the spinal cord can sit through the center of the bones. Spondylolisthesis is when one of the vertebrae slips out of place. It moves forward compared to the vertebra below.
    Spondylolisthesis
    si1944 97870 1 spondylolisthesis
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    Spondylolisthesis is most often caused by a stress fracture. The fracture can make the vertebra unstable and allow it to slip forward. This type of fracture often occurs when a lot of stress and pressure is put on the back. This can occur with certain sports activities.
    The condition can also be caused by spinal problems that are present at birth, like spina bifida.

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of spondylolisthesis include:
    • Rapid growth
    • Being an athlete, especially gymnasts, weight-lifters, and football players
    • Family history

    Symptoms

    Spondylolisthesis begins to progress at age 10-15 years. Symptoms may not appear until adulthood. In many cases of spondylolisthesis, there are no obvious symptoms. Symptoms that may be present include:
    • Low back pain, which may feel like muscle strain
    • Stiff back
    • Muscle spasms of the hamstring
    • Buttock pain and spasm
    • Changes in posture and/or gait
    • Numbness, weakness around the pelvis
    • Loss of bladder control

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Images of the spine will be taken with:

    Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

    Physical Therapy

    Physical therapy usually involves exercise. The exercise will focus on strengthening the abdominal and back muscles. A back brace may also be recommended.
    If you are overweight, your doctor may recommend you lose weight.

    Medications

    Pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may help manage pain.

    Surgery

    Surgery may be needed if the bone has severly slipped or you do not respond to treatment. Surgery will fuse two of the vertebra together. The procedure is called spinal fusion .

    Prevention

    Take the following steps to help protect your spine:
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Get plenty of rest between workouts.
    • Take measures to protect your back when participating in sports.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.

    RESOURCES

    American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org

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

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

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

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

    References

    Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00053 . Accessed December 28, 2012.

    Spondylolisthesis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated September 6, 2012. Accessed December 28, 2012.

    Revision Information

    • Reviewer: Mike Woods, MD
    • Review Date: 12/2012
    • Update Date: 12/28/2012
  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    HeartSHAPE® Test Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.