What Is Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a slippage of a vertebrae either forward (anterolisthesis) or backward (retrolisthesis). Spondylolisthesis usually occurs toward the base of the lumbar region of your spine.

What Are The Causes and Symptoms Of Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis has three main causes: (1) you may be born with the condition; or (2) caused by degenerative conditions; or (3) trauma from an accident. Our clients typically suffer symptoms from this type of an injury after a sudden jolt to the spine from either a fall or a sudden impact from an motor vehicle accident.

Many people will not know they have problems until either an x-ray or an MRI is performed. However, you should be aware of several symptoms that may indicate spondylolisthesis: (1) pain spreading across the lower back; (2) tightness in the hamstrings; (3) pain, weakness, numbness or tingling spreading down the leg to the foot; (4) an inability to control your bladder or bowel function; (5) if the case is advanced enough there may be a noticeable change in how people stand and walk, typically evident by developing a waddling style of walking.

How Is the Severity Of My Injury Measured?

A radiologist will determine the degree of slippage upon reviewing the spinal x-rays and will assign a grade based on how far the vertebral body has fallen off the vertebrae beneath it as follows:

Grade 1 - 1% to 25% slip

Grade 2 - 26% to 50% slip

Grade 3 - 51% to 75% slip

Grade 4 - 76% to 100% slip

Grade 5 - The vertebral body has completely fallen off the vertebrae beneath it.

How Is Spondylolisthesis Treated?

Treatment will depend on the severity of the slippage as well as the health and age of the person. The various methods of treatment are as follows:

1. You may undergo a conservative treatment to correct the problem by simply resting and taking over the counter NSAIDS such as ibuprofen or Aleve. If the pain persists some stronger medications may be prescribed, or an epidural steroid may be injected directly into the space surrounding the spine. You may also be given a brace or back support to help stabilize your lower back and reduce pain.

2. If pain persists, you may be prescribed physical therapy. Physical therapy sessions will typically last 8 to 12 weeks and will consist of aggressive daily treatments to strengthen the abdominal and/or back muscles which will minimize the movement of the spine and reduce pain.

3. Surgery may be recommended if the vertebrae continues to slip or the pain is not relieved by more conservative treatments. Usually two surgeries are used to treatment spondylolisthesis.

a. A laminectomy which involves removing the part of the vertebrae that is pressing on the nerve. For a more in depth discussion regarding a laminectomy, please see our article about a laminectomy procedure.

b. A spinal fusion is performed to provide additional stability. For a deeper discussion about spinal fusion, please see spinal fusion page.

What Are My Chances of Recovery From Spondylolisthesis?

Generally speaking conservative treatments for mild cases of spondylolisthesis are successful in approximately 80% of cases. Surgery is successful in relieving symptoms of severe spondylolisthesis in about 85% of cases.

Reach Out For Help Today

Contact Attorney Doug Stoehr if you are diagnosed with spondylolisthesis due to a car accident or a fall . To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our west-central Pennsylvania law firm by calling 814-946-4100 or email us.