Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

December 17, 2013

What Are Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

These two closely related conditions involve the lumbar spine and the way that the vertebrae fit together. Spondylolysis is a defect of the spinal column, located in the vertebrae. Each vertebra in the spine has facets, or facet joints, that connect the vertebrae to each other to maintain the spine’s integrity; the pars interarticularis are bits of bone located between these facet joints. If the pars interarticularis is injured, such as a stress fracture, it can detach, causing a separation of the vertebrae. This separation can result in a displacement of the spine, causing one of the vertebrae to be out of alignment and no longer properly connected to the rest of the spinal column, which is referred to as spondylolisthesis.

What Are The Major Symptoms of Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

General lower back pain is a common complaint, with occasional sharp or shooting pains in the lower back, buttocks, and thighs. The pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling. It may be painful or otherwise difficult to move from a sitting to a standing position. The back will often become stiffer, as will the hamstrings, as the legs are put under greater stress to hold the body upright with the spine out of alignment. Spondylolisthesis sometimes causes a leaning-forward posture, as the body attempts to compensate for the changes in the curve of the spine, and it can have an effect on one’s gait if the pelvis is also involved.

What Causes Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

The most common causes of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are related to excessive exercise and physical activity, especially at a young age, and the condition has a particularly high rate of occurrence in gymnasts. Tennis, cheerleading, football, rugby, and other sports can also be the cause. Tiny defects in the shape of the vertebrae can also greatly affect the likelihood of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis occurring.

What Are The Treatment Options for Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

The method of treatment depends on how advanced the condition is. In minor to moderate cases, physiotherapy, exercise therapy, and movement modification can be greatly beneficial, especially when it comes to correcting the changes in posture, gait, and muscle tension that can result. Unusual movement, compensatory movement, and abnormalities in the hips, legs, and back can usually be improved with exercise therapy. Heat treatment and anti-inflammatory drugs are also extremely helpful. If one does not improve with non-surgical management then the surgery could be a last-resort option.


Further information from Orthoseek: http://www.orthoseek.com/articles/spondyl.html

Your Journey to Pain Relief

App tracks progress. Step by step guide to pain relief and prevention.

Show results

Free Newsletter

Stay in the know. Our blogs are written by orthopaedic surgeons.