Spondylolisthesis is in effect the slipping of vertebrae in the spine. Vertebrae running throughout the various regions of the spine are joined together via a series of joints known as the facets. Between each of these vertebrae are intervertebral discs which act as shock absorbers in between the vertebral bones. When a patient is diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, they are experiencing a misalignment in their vertebrae caused by any number of conditions.
What Causes Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis may be brought on by a number of factors:
During the development of the spine, many factors play into proper formation of the spinal structures which will someday govern all movement in the body. During this time, congenital spondylolisthesis may result due to disease or hereditary defects present.
Common in athletes who primarily rely on the weight bearing ability of the spine, spondylolisthesis is typically caused by sudden and intense stress placed upon the back which results in the shift of vertebrae.
As we age, our muscles and bones lose strength and the ability to repair themselves quickly. With time, the stability of the spine may become compromised, leading to the onset of spondylolisthesis.
Because of the nature of spondylolisthesis, it is fairly simple to spot slipped vertebrae on an MRI. Unfortunately, many patients do not seek treatment until symptoms present themselves, often in the form of radiculopathy, where there may be tingling, numbness, pain and loss of motion or coordination. These symptoms, however, are typically caused by another spinal condition as a result of spondylolisthesis.
When the vertebrae slip, many different events take place in the spine, most importantly the misalignment of the facet joints joining the slipped vertebrae with adjacent vertebrae found above and below. Because of this poor alignment, conditions like arthritis in the spine may become accelerated, adding to the pain and discomfort down the road.
At Deuk Spine Institute, we prefer to give our patients the best options available when it comes to the treatment of their spine and quality of life. Book an appointment to discuss potential treatment options.