If you suffer from back pain, you may wonder what the cause could be. Spondylolisthesis is one medical problem that can cause moderate to severe pain in the back. As you seek pain management, it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis for treatment.
What Is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a condition that affects the vertebrae of the back. The problem occurs when one vertebra slips out of place onto the one below it. It happens because the vertebrae are unstable and move around more than what is normal.
The pain caused by spondylolisthesis happens when the vertebrae put pressure on a nerve as it moves and can also cause narrowing of the spinal canal. It can result in pain in the low back or radiating down the leg and numbness/tingling in the legs.
As a person gets older, the discs in the spine can wear down from overuse or improper posture. The bone can regrow, creating an uneven surface that allows the vertebrae to move around in the spine.
Causes and Types of Spondylolisthesis
Several types of this condition exist and are diagnosed based on the cause. For instance, congenital spondylolisthesis happens when the spine of a fetus doesn’t form correctly before birth. However, it may not cause any pain or problems until later in life.
Another type is isthmic spondylolisthesis, which is caused by spondylolysis. This condition is a crack or fracture in the bones of the spine that leads to slippage of the vertebrae.
Degenerative spondylosis is the most common form of the condition, which is caused by aging. The discs become thinner as they lose water with age and use, which allows them to slip out of place more easily.
It’s possible to have spondylolisthesis and not know it. You may not have any symptoms for years even though the vertebrae slip out of place. It’s also possible to experience symptoms on an occasional basis when the vertebrae put pressure on the nerve.
Pain management often includes rest and physical therapy, especially when the condition develops in athletes due to injury. You may be assigned exercises to strengthen the core and low back. Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter pain medication to provide temporary relief.
Is Surgery Necessary?
Doctors will try various non-surgical methods to treat spondylolisthesis and the pain it causes. If the condition is severe, the pain is unbearable, or non-surgical methods fail to work, surgery may become necessary.
The goal of surgery for this condition is to alleviate the pain and stabilize the spine while restoring normal function. Spinal decompression is done in surgery, sometimes with fusion. When this occurs, two vertebrae are fused together to become one bone. While this may limit mobility, it will keep them from moving out of place.
Surgery is a last resort, which is why you want to seek treatment when you first notice problems with your back. A pain management approach can allow you to strengthen your back and core, alleviate much of the pain, and enjoy improved range of motion.
St. Louis Pain Consultants can help you get relief from chronic pain. When you come in for a consultation, we’ll work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your pain.