Users' questions

Is spondylolisthesis a serious condition?

Is spondylolisthesis a serious condition?

Spondylolisthesis is a common cause of back pain, but it is not dangerous and doesn’t need to take over your life. Many treatments are available, from medication and physical therapy to spinal surgery.

Is surgery recommended for spondylolisthesis?

Although nonsurgical treatment is often successful, sometimes surgery is required to relieve the symptoms of spondylolisthesis and prevent the condition from worsening. Specialists at NYU Langone may recommend surgery for people with spondylolisthesis whose chronic back pain is not relieved by nonsurgical methods.

How is the diagnosis of degenerative spondylolisthesis made?

The diagnosis process varies a bit between the two types. Since degenerative spondylolisthesis is more likely to cause noticeable symptoms—such as lower back pain, leg pain, or leg aches—it’s usually diagnosed after a patient complains of these symptoms, and the physician orders an X-ray or an MRI.

What should I do if I have spondylolisthesis?

Treatment for spondylolisthesis varies depending on how severe the symptoms are. At UPMC, we usually begin with physical therapy. Many patients see improvement with stabilization, strengthening and stretching exercises.

When do you start to notice symptoms of spondylolisthesis?

Those who do tend to start noticing the symptoms during adolescence. The exact bones that are affected can vary from person to person. But generally, isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs a little lower in the spine than degenerative spondylolisthesis. The diagnosis process varies a bit between the two types.

When to get a bone scan for spondylolisthesis?

For people with signs and symptoms of spondylolisthesis, NYU Langone doctors may recommend a bone scan to determine whether a fractured vertebra is actively healing or is an old injury. First, a technician injects a small amount of dye, called a tracer, into a vein in your arm.

How do doctors treat spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is treated with the strengthening of supportive abdominal and back muscles through physical therapy. Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ketoprofen (Frotek), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil ), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) may help with pain.

Can spondylolisthesis get better?

Most people with spondylolisthesis get better by resting and doing exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the back. Only in rare cases is surgery needed to fix the condition.

What causes spondylolisthesis to worsen?

Spondylolisthesis can affect adults but can sometimes also occur in kids. Any process occurring during growth and development or with aging can weaken the spinal vertebra and increase the risk of spondylolisthesis. As it is also related to degenerative changes, it can worse over time, if left untreated.

Can spondylolisthesis go away?

If you have spondylolisthesis but have no symptoms, treatment is unnecessary. If the displacement is causing progressive spinal cord compression, though, you probably do have pain and other symptoms. Unfortunately, myelopathy associated with spondylolisthesis won’t go away on its own.