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Spondylolisthesis – Vertebrae Slippage

Spondylolisthesis (spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis) is the name of the condition that occurs when a vertebra slips out of line with the vertebrae on either side of it. While this condition most often occurs as a degenerative condition in the elderly, it can also occur in adolescents. In adolescents it is typically a deformity or result of trauma.

man and son playing basketball


The main symptom of spondylolisthesis is back pain. However, if the affected vertebrae shift far enough, a spinal nerve may be compressed, causing the pain to travel into the leg. This can also cause numbness.


In adults, common causes of spondylolisthesis are:

  • Disc degeneration
  • Arthritic changes
  • Pars defect

In adolescents, common causes of spondylolisthesis are:

  • Congenital deformity
  • Trauma or injury, often from athletic activities

Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatment options available for this condition. These include nonoperative treatments like medications, spinal cortisone injections, and physical therapy.

Surgical Treatments Include:
Decompression procedures to reduce or relieve altogether the pressure placed on the nerves. This involves the removal of all or a portion of the lamina, getting rid of bone spurs, or enlarging the foramen.

Posterolateral fusion, which is a procedure that calls for the insertion of screws and rods as well as a bone graft for increased spinal stability.

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