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Spondylolisthesis is also known as a slipped disc. It affects the lower vertebrae (lumbar or low back). There are several causes of this condition. It can occur in children due to a birth defect, it can run in families due to a genetic component, or it can occur in adolescence due to rapid growth.

The most common cause of spondylolisthesis is strain, overstretching, or stress on the lower back. This tends to happen in sports, specifically football, gymnastics, track and field, and weightlifting.

Over time, stress is placed on a vertebra. The bone will fracture and then slip and fall onto the bone beneath it. The precursor to spondylolisthesis is spondylolysis, which occurs when there is a fracture in a vertebra but it hasn’t fallen yet.


People with mild cases of spondylolisthesis may not have any symptoms. However, severe cases can be debilitating to one’s quality of life.

Common symptoms include:

  • Chronic lower back pain and tenderness
  • Thigh pain
  • Tight hamstring and buttock muscles
  • Stiffness in the back and legs


Your doctor will ask you a variety of questions to obtain a detailed family and personal medical history. They will perform a physical exam to evaluate your movement. You will also require an X-Ray. This will confirm a slipped disc or bone fractures. If nerves are involved, you may need a CT scan.


Nonsurgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen), back braces, physical therapy, and/or steroid injections can help manage symptoms. However, if the case is severe, surgery will be recommended.

Typically, a spinal fusion is performed. In this procedure, the slipped portion of the spine is stabilized with bone grafts and metal rods. If the spinal cord or nerve roots are involved, surgery will definitely be recommended to prevent serious damage.

For a comprehensive evaluation from the experts at Brain2Spine Institute, call 727-828-8400.

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