Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward on the adjacent vertebrae.

This will produce both a gradual deformity of the lower spine but also a narrowing of the vertebral canal.

It is often associated with pain.

Spondylolysis is the commonest cause of spondylolisthesis, and is sometimes referred to as isthmic spondylolisthesis, since the defect is in the isthmus. But there are other causes of spondylolisthesis.

In children born with underdeveloped facet joints (dysplastic joints), spondylolisthesis can also result, and is sometimes referred to as dysplastic spondylolisthesis.

More rarely, any infection or tumor affecting the posterior bony ring including the facet joints, can also cause instability and spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolysis is not a congenital condition and has never been identified in a newborn infant, or a child who has not started to walk.

Defects usually develop as a stress fracture in individuals predisposed to the condition, due to the shape or orientation of the bones at the base of your spine.

Spondylolysis is usually an incidental finding on an x-ray or CT scan undertaken to assess back pain due to another cause.

Spondylolisthesis is the term used to describe the presence of a spondylolysis where there has also been anterior translation of the vertebra with the lysis (usually L5), on the vertebra below (usually the sacrum).

In the majority of cases the degree of anterior translation is slight, but in approximately 20% of cases the displacement of the upper vertebra can be marked.

Progression of the "slip" usually occurs in early adolescence and is more common in girls than boys.

The development of a spondylolysis which then goes on to a spondylolisthesis is usually associated with significant low back pain, but in most cases the situation will stabilise and pain will settle.

It is only where severe pain persists, or features of nerve root irritation or compression develop that surgical intervention is sometimes needed.

Click here for our orthopaedic range for the back, spine and torso

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward on the adjacent vertebrae.

This will produce both a gradual deformity of the lower spine but also a narrowing of the vertebral canal.

It is often associated with

...

Spondylolysis is the commonest cause of spondylolisthesis, and is sometimes referred to as isthmic spondylolisthesis, since the defect is in the isthmus. But there are other causes of spondylolisthesis.

In children born with underdeveloped facet joints (dysplastic joints), spondylolisthesis can also result, and is sometimes referred to as dysplastic spondylolisthesis.

More rarely, any infection or tumor affecting the posterior bony ring including the facet joints, can also cause instability and spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolysis is not a congenital condition and has never been identified in a newborn infant, or a child who has not started to walk.

Defects usually develop as a stress fracture in individuals predisposed to the condition, due to the shape or orientation of the bones at the base of your spine.

Spondylolysis is usually an incidental finding on an x-ray or CT scan undertaken to assess back pain due to another cause.

Spondylolisthesis is the term used to describe the presence of a spondylolysis where there has also been anterior translation of the vertebra with the lysis (usually L5), on the vertebra below (usually the sacrum).

In the majority of cases the degree of anterior translation is slight, but in approximately 20% of cases the displacement of the upper vertebra can be marked.

Progression of the "slip" usually occurs in early adolescence and is more common in girls than boys.

The development of a spondylolysis which then goes on to a spondylolisthesis is usually associated with significant low back pain, but in most cases the situation will stabilise and pain will settle.

It is only where severe pain persists, or features of nerve root irritation or compression develop that surgical intervention is sometimes needed.

Click here for our orthopaedic range for the back, spine and torso

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