If you are at all familiar with spondylolisthesis you know that it generally occurs at the lumbosacral junction (located in the lower back) and is the displacement (most often forward slipping) of a vertebra in relation to the vertebrae that is beneath it. This can cause great spinal instability and can cause a slight discomfort in some while causing incapacitation pain in others. There are cases where spondylolisthesis can be managed without invasive procedure but in most instances, surgery is required. In surgery the affected area of the spine is stabilized and there is decompression.
Spondylolisthesis is often noticed with changes or an increase in neck stiffness and can even be indicated in the tightening of hamstrings. Usually when a person is affected by spondylolisthesis they may appear to be leaning forward as the condition can directly affect posture. If the condition is a bit more extreme, walking can be affected with a waddle taking the place of one’s natural stride. When the hamstring suffers from a tightening and pain there is little leg support and so the pelvis takes over in a rotating fashion as it attempts to decrease hamstring operation.
Spondylolisthesis can cause sufferers to experience a pain in the lower back that can be accompanied by intermittent shoots of pain traveling down the into the back, thigh, lower leg and buttocks. Sitting and attempting to stand from a sitting position may be difficult and painful along with coughing and sneezing. There are sufferers who have reported numbness or tingling as part of their symptoms as well. If a sufferer is active they may notice a feeling of slipping in the back when they are upright and mobile. Reducing activity can eliminate the slipping feeling and may cause less pain to the affected area. Rest can reduce inflammation which can result in a reduction of pain.
Surgery for spondylolisthesis is only really considered after about 6 weeks of trying to rectify the ailment with non-invasive procedures. Keep in mind that there are many associated health problems that may occur as a result of this surgery. Spinal fusion is often the surgical procedure of choice for this condition. This procedures fuses two or more vertebrae together often using metal implants, secured to the vertebrae until new bone grows between them. Bone for spinal fusion is taken from a bone bank or the patient’s pelvic area.
There are cases when spinal fusion is necessary for the stabilizing of the spine but keep in mind that this procedure is extremely invasive and can offer added discomfort in some instances. Be sure to exhaust all alternative possibilities. Risk associated with this surgery include failure of the process, pain at the bone graft site or graft rejection, deep blood clots that could potentially lead to pulmonary embolism, breakage of metal implants, nerve injury, and infection.
There are many factors to take into account when considering a procedure of this magnitude. Please be sure to consult with your physician (and seek a second opinion) before agreeing to this option.
Written By: Updated: July 1,2011