Spondylolisthesis is a disorder caused by damage or defect to a joint in the back, resulting in one of the spinal bones, or vertebrae, slipping forward on the vertebrae beneath it. Disorders that result in spondylolisthesis include congenital deformities of the joint, trauma, stress or compress fractures, or degenerative changes due to arthritis and sometimes due to infection. The lower back is most often involved, and when the vertebra slips forward, it may compress the spinal cord or the nerve roots that exit the spinal column from the spinal cord.
Damage or compression to these nerves may result in pain in your back or legs, numbness, weakness, and, depending upon the location of the problem, you could experience loss of bowel or bladder control. In cases of nerve problems, particularly with loss of control of the bowel or bladder, you should see a physician immediately.
Often, people have no symptoms when the vertebra initially slides forward. Years later you may experience pain in your lumbar region and buttocks, radiation to the legs, or other neurologic changes. Symptoms also include pain and difficulty walking and worsening of pain in your legs, buttocks, or back with bending or twisting movements.
Spondylolisthesis may be the result of a stress fracture caused by overuse of the bones of the back in sports like weight lifting or gymnastics in children and teens. Older patients develop spondylolisthesis as a result of degenerative changes, like osteoporosis, that may cause stress fractures and result in forward slippage of the joint. When the discs within the intervertebral spaces are worn, spondylolisthesis may occur.
If you suspect you have spondylolisthesis or if you have undiagnosed back pain or neurologic symptoms like those described above, call today for a consultation to assess and begin appropriate treatment to prevent further damage to your spine or spinal cord. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. You can find us at our conveniently located clinics in West Orange, Aberdeen, and Lyndhurst.