You may not be aware you have spondylolisthesis, and if you’re not experiencing any symptoms then you don’t need to worry. However, if you have any form of low back pain, it’s worthwhile to get an accurate diagnosis from the team at Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care, with offices in West Plano and North Plano, Texas. The specialist physical medicine doctors on staff can diagnose the cause of your pain and provide effective treatment options. To learn more, schedule an appointment online or by phone (972) 596-1059 today.
Spondyloisthesis Q & A
What is spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis involves the slippage of vertebrae, most often in the base of your spine. Your vertebrae support your body and enable you to move, but age or injury can cause vertebrae in your low back to shift out of place.
In many cases, spondylolisthesis doesn’t cause symptoms at all, and in patients who are experiencing symptoms, pain management and physical therapies resolve the problem. Spondylolisthesis can sometimes lead to spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal.
What causes spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis may be due to the effects of aging or be caused by trauma to your lower back. Facet joints in your spine that start to deteriorate with age are the most common cause of degenerative spondylolisthesis, but in rare cases, spondylolysis, a stress fracture in a vertebra, can cause isthmic spondylolisthesis.
What are the symptoms of spondylolisthesis?
The spondylolisthesis symptoms you experience vary according to the degree of slippage, and whether the vertebra is pressing against nerves or other tissues. Many people with spondylolisthesis have no symptoms, but when symptoms are present they may include:
- Low back pain
- Stiffness in your lower back
- Muscle spasms
- Tightening of the hamstring muscles in your thighs
- Difficulty walking
- Leg pain
- Weakness in your legs
- Numbness or tingling in your lower body
- Abnormal leg reflexes
You may find your symptoms worsen if you stand up or walk for some time, but they often improve when you sit down or bend forward, as this takes pressure off your spinal cord.
How is spondylolisthesis diagnosed?
Your doctor evaluates your symptoms and looks at your medical history, then asks you to carry out certain movements that help them assess the level of restriction in your spine. X-rays allow your doctor to see the alignment of your spine, and you may need other diagnostic imaging tests to check for compression and narrowing.
How is spondylolisthesis treated?
Treatment options depend on how much slippage has taken place. Your doctor grades your condition to help with planning the most appropriate course of treatment, so Grade 1 would be less than 25% slippage, while Grade 4 would be more than 75% slippage.
Milder cases of spondylolisthesis often respond to pain management and physical therapies, but if the symptoms persist your doctor may suggest epidural steroids. More severe cases of spondylolisthesis might require surgery.
If you’re experiencing low back pain or any kind of dysfunction, get an accurate diagnosis and the correct treatment by calling Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care or scheduling an appointment online today.