What Is Spondylolisthesis?

Are you experiencing back pain that shoots to one or both of your legs? Is there numbness or tingling that goes into your calf or foot? There are a few common conditions of the spine that may be causing your symptoms, one of which is lumbar spondylolisthesis.

When someone suffers from spondylolisthesis, their vertebrae (the small circular bones that form the spine) aren’t aligned properly. In patients with healthy spines, vertebrae are stacked up on top of each other like building blocks. When one or more of these bones slip and become misaligned, they can cause nerve root irritation and painful bulging discs.

At Non-Surgical Orthopaedics in Marietta, GA we treat many painful spine disorders, including lumbar spondylolisthesis, with a variety of pain management injections. Each treatment is tailored to the patient’s unique symptoms. The pain-alleviating effects may last for several weeks or even months.

What Causes Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is typically caused by age-related wear and tear of the spine. As you age, it’s not uncommon for degenerative spine conditions like osteoarthritis to develop. These conditions can weaken the vertebrae of your spine, making them more susceptible to slips, fractures and injuries.

Other less common causes of spondylolisthesis are:

  • Genetics: Some people are born with thinner vertebrae. Abnormally thin vertebrae are especially susceptible to slips and fractures.
  • Certain sports: Children and teenagers who participate in spine-stretching sports like football and gymnastics are more likely to develop spondylolisthesis during growth spurts.


What Are the Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis?

For some people, spondylolisthesis is completely asymptomatic. They may have the condition and not be aware of it. In others, spondylolisthesis will cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Low back pain
  • Back stiffness
  • Pain that radiates to the buttocks and legs
  • Increased pain when bending over
  • Numbness or tingling in the foot

How Is Spondylolisthesis Treated?

If your symptoms align with spondylolisthesis and your doctor confirms the condition with imaging tests, they will discuss treatment options with you. If the grade of vertebrae slippage isn’t severe, your healthcare provider will likely begin with conservative and non-invasive treatment, such as:

  • Rest: Avoiding strenuous physical activity can alleviate pain and other symptoms.
  • Medication: Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief and prescribe other medications if the pain persists.
  • Physical therapy: Targeted exercise performed with the help and guidance of a physical therapist can help strengthen your back and alleviate pain.
  • Bracing: Wearing a brace can stabilize your spine and help bone fractures heal.

Will I Get Better?

If you’re suffering from spondylolisthesis, you may be wondering if your condition will ever improve. The resounding answer is “yes.” Many people with spondylolisthesis experience relief from pain and other symptoms with conservative and consistent treatment. However, sometimes symptoms of spondylolisthesis are severe and don’t respond well to non-invasive treatments.

Patients with high-grade spondylolisthesis may require more advanced treatment, such as pain management injections.

At Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, we are committed to helping patients with spondylolisthesis and other spine disorders find relief from their symptoms. By administering minimally-invasive steroid injections, radiofrequency lesioning and regenerative medicine, we aim to treat acute and chronic pain, promote healing and help improve your overall quality of life.

Our patients can rest assured their treatment will be tailored to their individual needs and symptoms. Every treatment is administered by one of our Board-Certified orthopaedic specialists.

Will I Need Surgery for My Spondylolisthesis?

Surgery for spondylolisthesis should be avoided unless other less-invasive treatment options have been exhausted. Doctors are usually cautious when it comes to surgery on the spine, as there are a lot of things that can go wrong.

Any surgery is inherently risky, with potential complications including infections, anesthesia complications, nerve damage, implant migration (this happens when an implant moves from its intended location within the spine), spinal cord injuries and more. These complications can cause your symptoms to worsen, and you may even have to undergo another invasive corrective surgery.

The specialists at Non-Surgical Orthopaedics are committed to helping patients avoid risky surgery and find pain relief even if other treatments have proven unsuccessful.

The pain management treatment options we offer can help reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing within your body. The effects of our treatments may be felt for several weeks or months and are less likely to result in side effects or complications than surgeries and oral medications.

To schedule your appointment with one of our experienced physicians, call 770-421-1420.