Spondylolisthesis is a forward or backward slippage of one vertebra on an adjacent vertebra. This displacement can be of a single vertebra or the whole vertebral column.

Many people with spondylolisthesis have no symptoms and don’t even know they have the condition. When symptoms do occur, low back pain is the most common. The pain usually spreads across the lower back, and might feel like a muscle strain. This is often worse after exercise especially with extension of the lumbar spine.

Spondylolisthesis can also cause muscle spasms in the hamstring muscles in the back of the thighs. Tight hamstrings can cause the person to walk with short strides and with the knees slightly bent. If the slipped vertebra is pressing on a nerve, pain might spread down the leg to the foot. The foot might also tingle and/or feel numb.

If the person is actively engaged in sports like gymnastics, weight lifting, soccer, he/she is quite vulnerable to this condition. Such sports involve hyperextension of the spine and thus put it at the risk of spondylolisthesis.

There is a hereditary aspect — a person may be born with thin vertebral bone and be vulnerable to this condition.

There is a condition when the new bones begin to grow. They work like the pars heals. As a result, the pars begin to stretch. Thus the elongated pars push the vertebra forward resulting in this condition.

The body becomes vulnerable to this condition with the growing age. As the person grow old, his bones become week and hence more susceptible to the injuries.

Spondylolisthesis cannot be completely prevented. Certain activities such as gymnastics, weight-lifting and football are known to increase the stress on the vertebrae and increase the risk of developing spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis is easily identified using plain radiographs. A lateral X-ray (from the side) will show if one of the vertebra has slipped forward compared to the adjacent vertebrae.

Most people with spondylolisthesis can be treated conservatively, without the need for surgery. Patients who fail to improve with conservative treatment may be a candidate for surgery.

“Wish me luck for the doctor appointment on Friday”

Source: MedicineNet, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, Medline Plus, spondylolisthesis.org
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