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Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra slides forward over the bone below it. This occurs most often in the lower spine (lumbar) area and may cause the spinal cord or nerve roots to be squeezed, resulting in back pain and numbness or weakness in your legs. Spondylolisthesis may be caused by several problems with your spine, including stress fractures, trauma, overuse or arthritis.

At SSM Health, our back and spine specialists understand how back pain can disrupt your life. If you have back pain that isn’t improving with self-care techniques, like rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, schedule an appointment for an evaluation with one of our back pain specialists. Our goal is to help you find relief as quickly and safely as possible, so you can get back to doing the things you love.

Signs & Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

In some cases, spondylolisthesis causes no symptoms at all or does not cause symptoms until years after an injury. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the lower back or buttocks
  • Stiffening of the back
  • Tightness of the hamstrings
  • A change in gait and posture
  • Pain when sitting or standing up
  • Shooting pain from the buttocks into the thigh or lower leg

Be sure to let your SSM Health primary care provider know if you have a difficult time walking or have problems controlling your bowel or bladder, as these are signs of a more serious problem.

Treating Spondylolisthesis

As with many causes of back pain, spondylolisthesis symptoms can often be managed with conservative therapies, such as:

  • Pain relievers (acetaminophen)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Oral steroids (prednisone or methylprednisolone)
  • Rest and modifying your activities
  • Physical therapy

In most cases, surgery is only considered after 6 to 12 months of therapy has failed to relieve the symptoms. The most common surgical procedure is a laminotomy. During this procedure, an SSM Health surgeon removes a portion of the roof over the vertebra to create more room for the spinal nerves, which can reduce irritation and inflammation. This is often combined with a lumbar fusion to help prevent the spondylolisthesis from progressing.

With proper treatment, you can manage your spondylolisthesis symptoms and feel better. The SSM Health back and spine team understands that finding relief from your back pain is a priority, so you can get back to your daily activities. Find an SSM Health provider today to get the comprehensive, compassionate care you deserve.

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