Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which the vertebrae move more than they ought to, resulting in spine instability. A vertebra slides out of position and settles on the one below it. It might exert pressure on a nerve, resulting in lower back or leg pain. Spondylos in Greek means “spine” or “vertebra,” and listhesis means “sliding, slipping, or moving.”
Types of spondylolistheses
- Congenital spondylolisthesis
When a baby’s spine does not develop properly before birth, it is known as congenital spondylolisthesis. The person’s vertebrae are misaligned, putting them at risk for slippage at a later age.
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis
The most prevalent kind is degenerative spondylolisthesis, which occurs as a result of aging. The discs that support the vertebrae lose water with time. The discs are more likely to fall out of position as they thin.
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis
Due to spondylolysis, isthmic spondylolisthesis develops. The bone gets weakened by a crack or fracture.
- Post-surgical spondylolisthesis
Slippage caused due to spinal surgery is known as post-surgical spondylolisthesis.
- Traumatic spondylolisthesis
Traumatic spondylolisthesis occurs when the vertebrae slide because of an injury.
- Pathological spondylolisthesis
When the condition is caused by a disease (such as osteoporosis or a tumor), it is then known as pathological spondylolisthesis.
Is spondylolisthesis common?
Spondylolisthesis affects around 4% to 6% of the total adult population. It’s easy to go years without realizing you have spondylolisthesis since you don’t have any symptoms. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is more prevalent in women than in men after the age of 50. Isthmic spondylolisthesis is one of the most common reasons for back pain in teenagers. You can click here to learn more about spondylolisthesis (slipped disc).
People who are at risk of having spondylolisthesis
You may be at a higher risk of developing spondylolisthesis if you belong to these groups of people:
Spondylolisthesis is more common in young athletes (children and teenagers) who participate in activities that strain their lumbar spines, such as football and gymnastics. Vertebral slippage is more common in youngsters during growth spurts.
Some patients with isthmic spondylolisthesis are born with a thinner pars interarticularis. The facet joints are connected by the tiny sliver of bone to form a functioning unit allowing the spine to move. These thinner vertebrae are more prone to fractures and slippage. The hereditary component of degenerative spondylolisthesis is also significant.
Degenerative spine diseases, which occur when the vertebrae deteriorate due to wear and tear, can happen as we age. Spondylolisthesis is more common in older persons with degenerative spinal disorders. After the age of 50, it gets increasingly prevalent.
You might not notice any signs or symptoms of spondylolisthesis. Some people are unaware that they have the disease. If you do experience symptoms, the most common one is lower backache. The discomfort may spread to the buttocks and thighs. You may also encounter:
- Spasms in the hamstring muscle
- Stiffness in the back
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the foot
- Walking or standing for long periods may become difficult.
- When leaning over, you might feel pain.
Your doctor will do a physical examination and inquire about your symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis, you may need,
- A spinal X-ray
- CT scan or an MRI scan
If you feel any back pain, do not delay consulting your doctor. It does not mean that you will be diagnosed with spondylolisthesis. But even if it be so, it has proper treatment. So, you need not worry unnecessarily. Only follow what the doctor says.