What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a condition that affects the spine as we age. The condition occurs when one of the vertebras in the spine slips forward onto the one below it. Spondylolisthesis usually develops as we age and is a result of bones, joints, and ligaments in the spine weakening and being less able to hold the structure of the spinal column in proper alignment. Degenerative spondylolisthesis begins to show itself in patients over 50 years of age and becomes much more common in after the age of 65.
Spondylolisthesis can sometimes be treated non-surgically using block or steroid injections. In some cases it is necessary to perform a minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure, and prevent further deterioration.
Treatment varies, depending on if the type of slip, the patient's age and symptoms, and whether pressure is being put on nerves. For those whose nerves are not affected by the vertebral slippage, treatment starts with non-surgical treatments like medication and physical therapy. Bracing may also be recommended. If symptoms are manageable and the slip is small, the treatment will likely be observation. Activity restrictions may be necessary for children, like abstaining from certain sports.
If the slip is more severe or symptoms of nerve compression are present, surgery may be recommended. Surgeries for this condition include spinal decompression, where bone is removed to make room for the nerve being compressed, or spinal fusion. These surgeries are often done at the same time.