Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra slides forward over the bone below it. This occurs most often in the lower spine (lumbar) area and may cause the spinal cord or nerve roots to be squeezed.
Spondylolisthesis symptoms can include:
- Stiffening of the back
- Tightness of the hamstrings
- A change in gait and posture
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain when sitting or standing up
- Shooting pain from the buttocks into the thigh or lower leg
Patients with spondylolisthesis are offered conservative treatments at first, such as pain relievers (acetaminophen), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), activity modification and physical therapy. If the pain begins to radiate, oral steroids (prednisone or methylprednisolone) may be given over a short period of time.
In most cases, surgery is only considered after 6 to 12 months of therapy has failed to relieve the symptoms. The most common surgical procedure is a laminotomy, in which a portion of the roof over the vertebra to create more room for the spinal nerves and reduce irritation and inflammation, this is often combined with a lumbar fusion to assist in preventing the spondylolisthesis from progressing.