Spondylolisthesis is a spine condition that generally refers to the inflammation and swelling of the vertebrae in the spine. Most doctors use the term spondylitis to refer to a compilation of arthritic spine conditions that cause the joints and vertebrae of the spine to swell. Due to the complex nature of this condition, it is often difficult to determine a specific cause without an MRI or CT scan.


There is a range of spondylolisthesis causes, but two very common ones are natural wear due to aging and high-impact activities like football and other sports. While some spondylolisthesis causes are unavoidable, there are activities that can put you at a higher risk for slipped vertebrae. Gymnasts, weight lifters, and football players are especially vulnerable to spondylolisthesis because so much pressure is placed on their backs. Other causes include:

  • Fractures: Spondylolisthesis is often caused by small fractures to the joints in the spine. This can cause a vertebra to become unhinged and slip forward. The fractures can be partial or complete, and sometimes fragments of bone are broken off, which can cause a pinched nerve.
  • Aging: As the body ages. The spinal discs dry out, making them less capable of handling movements and absorbing shock. As a disc loses its ability to act as a cushion, it increases the chance a vertebra will slip forward.
  • Tumors: Tumors Can weaken bones, causing fractures and potentially leading to a vertebral slip. 
  • Surgery: Slippage can result from complications related to back surgery, but it is rare. 
  • A birth defect: It is possible to be born with a defective joint that can increase the risk of developing spondylolisthesis.


Depending on the degree of vertebral slippage, your doctor may recommend a variety of treatment tactics. If the condition is not severe and the patient is not experiencing extreme symptoms, the doctor will most likely begin by suggesting conservative treatment methods. 

Some conservative treatment options may include:

  • A period of rest
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Pain medications
  • A stabilization brace
  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Lifestyle changes

Spondylolisthesis surgery may be an option for those who have tried conservative spondylolisthesis treatments but are still experiencing pain or limited mobility. The two main types of surgery used to treat this condition are decompression procedures and spinal fusions. 


Spondylolisthesis symptoms range from mild to severe; in fact, often there are no symptoms at all and a patient will discover the presence of spondylolisthesis in an X-ray of an unrelated condition. This condition will cause symptoms including pain and tenderness in the back, muscle spasms, stiffness in the hamstrings, and buttocks pain. The most common symptom of spondylolisthesis is lower back pain which is usually aggravated by activities that put extra stress on the lower back or by activities that cause the back to hyperextend. Additionally, this condition can affect body mobility, causing you to walk in shorter strides with slightly bent knees or in a “waddling” motion, causing a recessed curvature in the lower spine and protruding abdomen. 

Here is a list of common symptoms associated with spondylolisthesis:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Stiffness in the back
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Pain when bending over

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, you should consult with your doctor to ensure your symptoms do not worsen. 

Decompression Surgery

Often, the pain caused by spondylolisthesis is a result of bone matter, disc material, or other tissues in the spinal canal pushing against a nerve. During this procedure, the surgeon will remove the source of the pressure on the nerve root or spinal cord, thereby releasing these nerves and alleviating the pain and other symptoms that they cause. 

If you are interested in learning about the different decompression surgeries offered through BEST Health System, contact our team and see if you are a candidate for any of our several spine procedures. 

Stabilization Surgery

The second kind of spondylolisthesis surgery, a spinal fusion, is performed to reposition a slipped vertebra and stabilize it in place, thereby strengthening the spine and lifting the vertebral bone and disk tissue off a nerve root or the spinal cord. If you would like to hear more information regarding BEST Health System’s surgical options, reach out today and get started on your path to recovery.

BEST Health System

If you are experiencing back pain, there is no need to suffer in silence. BEST Health System connects patients to experienced doctors who put you first. Our team will ensure that you find the most effective treatment option through minimally invasive surgical techniques. 

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