Spondylolisthesis Symptoms


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Spondylolisthesis Symptoms

  1. 1. Spondylolisthesis Symptoms<br />left358140The misalignment of one or more vertebrae in the spinal column (also known as spondylolisthesis) can lead to a number of spondylolisthesis symptoms. While most common in the lower region of the back, known as the lumbar spine, this condition can potentially occur throughout the back and neck, leading to a wide range of symptoms at various areas of the body.<br />Spinal Anatomy<br />In a healthy spine, individual vertebrae are stacked one on top of another and span from the base of the skull all the way to the tail bone. In order to keep the vertebrae from grinding together, soft, spongy intervertebral discs are positioned between the bones, effectively cushioning the spine and preventing painful bone-on-bone contact. The vertebrae are further stabilized by intervertebral joints that allow the bones to articulate comfortably, providing the flexibility needed for full range of motion in the back and neck.<br />In a healthy, strong spine, the various anatomical components work in unison to allow for the subtle movements that we take for granted with daily use. However, over the years as an individual grows older, these regular movements can take their toll and cause the spinal column to naturally deteriorate as a result of regular wear and tear. This degeneration doesn’t happen overnight and the early stages of spinal deterioration normally go entirely unnoticed, but eventually the individual may experience a number of symptoms ranging in severity.<br />Spondylolisthesis is an example of a degenerative spine condition that can develop from spinal deterioration. This condition occurs when one vertebra slides out of position and ends up on top of the vertebra directly below it by either slipping forward or backward (retrospondylolisthesis). Spondylolisthesis can develop a number of ways, but it is usually a result of the onset of degenerative disc disease, where the intervertebral disc weakens, bulges, or ruptures, allowing the vertebra above it to fall out of place. This condition can cause a number of spondylolisthesis symptoms.<br />What it Means to Have Spondylolisthesis Symptoms<br />One of the most interesting aspects of spondylolisthesis is that while the misalignment of vertebrae may sound like a serious and debilitating condition, many people never even know they have the condition. Spondylolisthesis is characterized into numerous grades, used to depict the extent of the misalignment, and symptoms vary from grade to grade and patient to patient. An individual with Grade 1 spondylolisthesis, for example, has 0-25 percent misalignment of the vertebra, as opposed to someone with Grade 4 spondylolisthesis, who has 75-100 percent misalignment. So while an individual may have been diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, there are varying degrees of the condition.<br />Additionally, particularly in the earlier stages, spondylolisthesis may be entirely asymptomatic. This is because many of the symptoms commonly associated with the condition are caused not by the vertebral misalignment, but by nerve compression within the spinal column that can occur as a result of the misalignment. But if the misaligned vertebra does not come into contact with the spinal cord or any of the nerves within the canal, the patient may remain unaware of their condition.<br />Symptoms<br />right2647950That being said, there are a number of spondylolisthesis symptoms that a patient with the condition may experience. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the most common symptom associated with the condition is chronic pain experienced locally at the site of the spondylolisthesis. However, when nerve compression occurs, a whole range of different symptoms can follow. This is because a number of nerves branch off the spinal cord in the spinal canal before extending throughout the body. When the regular function of one of these nerves is interfered with by a degenerated disc, spondylolisthesis, or another degenerative spine condition, the muscles and muscle groups innervated by that particular nerve can be affected.<br />Take sciatica, for example. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the body. It begins in the spinal canal in the lumbar region of the spine in the lower back and extends down both legs and into the feet. When the sciatic nerve becomes compressed, the most common symptom associated with this condition isn’t lower back pain, but rather sharp pain in the legs. This is known as radiating or traveling pain, and symptoms like these can make diagnosing the presence of a degenerative spine condition difficult because an individual with leg pain or weakness in an arm usually doesn’t first assume the problem originates in the spine. Then, valuable time can be lost attempting to treat the spondylolisthesis symptoms without actually treating the condition itself.<br />In addition to pain, some of the other spondylolisthesis symptoms that may be experienced include:<br /><ul><li>Unexpected muscle weakness
  2. 2. Numbness
  3. 3. Tingling
  4. 4. Diminished reflexes
  5. 5. Soreness
  6. 6. A feeling of pins and needles
  7. 7. Fatigue</li></ul>Treatment Options for Spondylolisthesis <br />The good news when it comes to spondylolisthesis symptoms is that they normally respond well to treatment. Once spondylolisthesis has been diagnosed, the doctor will work with the patient to develop a customized treatment plan that takes into consideration a number of factors, such as the patient’s overall health, age, extent and severity of symptoms, current medications, previously attempted treatments, and more. While there are numerous treatments available, the wrong treatment may prove ineffective or even make the condition worse.<br />In most cases, spondylolisthesis treatment begins conservatively, with a variety of noninvasive treatments. These treatments are designed to remove strain on the deteriorated region of the spine as well as manage the patient’s pain. Some common types of treatment include the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (either over-the-counter or prescription), the application of heat or ice, physical therapy and low-impact exercises, stretching techniques, and other similar treatment options. Epidural corticosteroid injections may be recommended to alleviate pain in the short-term to make treatment more comfortable. Some individuals also find relief from alternative therapies like chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, and herbal supplements. <br />Surgical Options<br />Occasionally, spondylolisthesis symptoms will persist through several weeks or months of treatment, in which case surgery may be considered. Surgery may also be recommended for patients with severe cases of spondylolisthesis, especially when the stability of the spine is in question.<br />left2816225One of the most common types of spondylolisthesis surgery is known as spinal fusion. This open spine surgery requires the patient to be placed under general anesthesia and must be completed in a hospital environment. During the operation, the surgeon gains access to the spinal column through a large incision and removes the intervertebral disc in its entirety. A bone graft or matrix is installed in place of the disc and surgical hardware is installed to further stabilize the spine. Over time, the vertebrae grow together. <br />This surgery, while often effective, is highly invasive and requires lengthy recovery and rehabilitation for the patient to regain their strength. There is also a notable risk for post-operative complications such as infections and clotting, as well as the fear of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), which can leave the patient with continued or worsening pain after the procedure is completed.<br />Alternatively, some spondylolisthesis surgery can occasionally be attempted with a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure, although this isn’t recommended when spinal stability is in question.<br />To learn more about spondylolisthesis symptoms and the various treatment options available to you, visit your doctor today.<br />