Dr. S. Samuel Bederman
Orthopedic Spine Surgeon & Back, Spine, & Neck Specialist located in Orange, CA
Slipped vertebrae, or spondylolisthesis, cause pain and dysfunction in your back. If you suspect this common condition, consult orthopedic specialist S. Samuel Bederman, MD, of RESTORE Orthopedics and Spine Center in Orange, California. He can help you manage this condition without surgery when possible, but he does offer minimally invasive surgery when necessary. To make an appointment, call the office or schedule using this website today.
Spondylolisthesis Q & A
What is spondylolisthesis?
A common condition describing slipped vertebrae, spondylolisthesis usually happens at the base of the spine. When one vertebra slips forward over the one beneath it, it can pinch the spinal cord and nerves. This results in pain, weakness, and numbness in your lower back, buttocks, and legs.
What causes spondylolisthesis?
A congenital defect can be the cause of spondylolisthesis. You can also develop spondylolisthesis after trauma or a stress fracture. Disease or infection can degrade vertebrae, causing them to slip.
The most common sufferers of spondylolisthesis are children and teenagers who are active in athletics like gymnastics.
What are the symptoms of spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis most often shows up in the lower back or tailbone area — the section of the back known as the lumbosacral spine.
Suspect spondylolisthesis if you experience:
- Lower back pain
- Muscle tightness and stiffness
- Pain radiating down your legs
- Pain in your buttocks
The leg and buttock pain is due to a slipped disc compressing nerves. You might notice these symptoms increase in severity with activity and improve with rest. In severe cases, spondylolisthesis can lead to loss of bladder or bowel control.
What are the treatments for spondylolisthesis?
Treatments include medication like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy. Physical therapy focuses on strengthening the back and abdominal muscles to support the spine.
Rest is another important treatment strategy. Dr. Bederman will often recommend that you avoid sports and other activities that put excessive stress on your lower back, at least for a while.
Some patients benefit from wearing a back brace to limit the spine’s movement and give the slipped vertebra a chance to heal.
When these noninvasive methods fail to resolve pain and dysfunction from spondylolisthesis, Dr. Bederman will recommend surgery. Fusion, or arthrodesis, of the slipped vertebra to the bone below is a common surgery. This usually involves the fifth lumbar vertebra and the sacrum.
People with severe slippage, progressively worsening slippage, or back pain that doesn’t improve with conservative treatments are eligible for fusion surgery. The goals of the surgery are to stabilize the spine, ease back pain, and prevent the slip from getting worse.
If you have pain that suggests spondylolisthesis, call RESTORE Orthopedics and Spine Center or schedule an appointment online today for an evaluation.