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What Is Spondylolisthesis?

What Is Spondylolisthesis?

Lower back pain is all too common among Americans, and it should never be ignored. Back pain is a sign of a spine problem, and left untreated, you could end up with a serious injury and even lose feeling or function in one or both legs. 

At Advantage Spinal Dynamics & Innovative Medicine in Meridian, Idaho, our team of experienced medical practitioners routinely cares for patients with lower back pain, improving their lives and restoring mobility. 

What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a spine instability. The vertebrae in your spine can become misaligned with the discs that separate them allowing one vertebra to rest on the one below it, compressing the nerves in the same area. 

There are three main types of spondylolisthesis:

Congenital spondylolisthesis

This type of spondylolisthesis occurs when the fetal spine doesn't form properly, leading to severe misalignment and disc slippage that can cause lifelong back issues.

Isthmic spondylolisthesis

This kind of spondylolisthesis happens when spondylolysis (a condition causing small cracks in the vertebrae) weakens the spine and causes slippage. Back pain in teens is often caused by isthmic spondylolisthesis

Degenerative spondylolisthesis

This kind of spondylolisthesis is caused by the thinning of discs as people age due to water loss, which can result in disc slippage. This is more common in people over the age of 50, and more likely to happen to women than to men.

Less common are traumatic spondylolisthesis caused by an injury, pathological spondylolisthesis caused by a disease or growth that misaligns the spine, or post-surgical spondylolisthesis caused by slippage after spine surgery.

Grades and symptoms

Around 4%-6% of adults have spondylolisthesis and/or spondylolysis. Age, genetics, and level of athleticism are all factors in developing spondylolisthesis. The severity is determined by the grade assigned. There are four grades, split into two levels.

Grade I and Grade II spondylolisthesis are "low level" and typically don’t require surgery. Most young people with isthmic spondylolisthesis and nearly all cases of degenerative spondylolisthesis are low level. 

Grade III and Grade IV spondylolisthesis are "high level," and if there’s significant pain, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Symptoms of spondylolisthesis usually start as back pain, starting in the lower back and creeping downward. You may also experience:

We examine you and run scans to find out what type of spondylolisthesis is affecting you, then create an appropriate treatment plan to help minimize pain and improve your ability to do the things you love.

Interested in learning more? The experts at Advantage Spinal Dynamics can help diagnose, grade, and recommend treatment for your spondylolisthesis. To schedule a consultation, call 208-225-4358 or request an appointment online. 

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