Do I have Spondylolisthesis?
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints among adults — especially as they age. The more activity and wear and tear our bodies see, the more pressure is placed on the lower back; not only is it the support of the upper body, it is also most easily damaged when something is lifted incorrectly or the torso is twisted and forces something in the wrong direction. Understanding the symptoms and treatments of spondylolisthesis is important for correct diagnosis and living with less pain.
What is it?
Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips out of place, causing the spine to become unstable. The spine is made up of vertebrae that link together and have discs, almost like cushions, that sit between them. When one vertebra slips over the disc beneath it, a variety of symptoms can crop up. Typically, this occurs in the lower back region.
What are the symptoms?
In some cases, spondylolisthesis can occur and no symptoms will be noticed. For others, severe, radiating nerve pain will develop, affecting various parts of the body such as the legs or even the fingers. Your physician may ask you to rank the severity of your pain, using a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the greatest. Most commonly, those suffering from spondylolisthesis will experience pain or lack of flexibility in their lower back. They will feel stiffness and pain in the thigh, buttock, and lower back areas. At times, spondylolisthesis can affect posture, your stride and how you move.
How can it be treated?
To diagnose this condition, your doctor may suggest that you get an X-ray or an MRI. If your condition is minor, your physician may recommend conservative treatment that includes stretching, physical therapy and walking. Doctors may also recommend a back brace or regular chiropractic adjustments for your back. If the pain is severe or worsens, nerve block injections might be recommended. If several months of conservative treatment haven’t eased your pain, it may be time to consider a surgical option.
In the most severe spondylolisthesis cases, when spine surgery is recommended, Laser Spine Institute offers a free initial consultation and MRI review to help determine if a minimally invasive procedure could be right for you.