Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a bone (vertebra) in the spine slips forward or backward in relation to the bone below it. It occurs most frequently in the lower back but can affect any vertebra. Low back pain, leg pain and weakness in the legs can result if the bone that is out of position significantly narrows the spinal column and begins to press on nerves.
Causes of spondylolisthesis include:
- Congenital (something you are born with) defect of the vertebral joint. This usually occurs in the lower spine where the lumbar spine and sacrum come together. The defect allows a lumbar vertebra to slip forward over the sacrum
- Stress “micro-fracture” in the bone due to overstretching and overuse. This can occur with sports activities such as gymnastics, weight lifting, ice skating and football
- Aging or overuse-related wear on the spinal joints
Rest and anti-inflammatory medication resolve most cases, but occasionally physical therapy or surgery may be required.
What grade of spondylolisthesis do I have?
Like many other conditions, spondylolisthesis can be measured using a grading system, where your spondylolisthesis grade is based on the degree of displacement of your vertebrae. Grades of spondylolisthesis influence what symptoms you might experience as well as what treatment you will likely receive.
The grade of your condition is based on the distance from the posterior edge of the superior body of the vertebrae to the same edge of the inferior vertebral body. The ratings range from spondylolisthesis grade 1 to spondylolisthesis grade 5: grade 1 spondylolisthesis being least severe and grade 5 most severe.
To diagnose your spondylolisthesis grade, your provider may order:
- X-rays of the spine
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Electromyography (EMG) studies — tests that measure the electrical activity of muscles and nerves
Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Why choose Ohio State for treatment of spondylolisthesis?
Multidisciplinary Team: When you come to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Spine Center, we determine the source of your pain, accurately diagnose the severity of your condition and choose which least-invasive treatment approach will restore you to the highest level of function possible.
Among the experts at our Comprehensive Spine Center are:
- Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians
- Physical therapists
- Spine surgeons with neurosurgical and orthopedic training
- Pain specialists/anesthesiologists
Comprehensive Care: Ohio State offers all available treatment options for spondylolisthesis and provides realistic expectations for the treatment you choose. We consider your lifestyle and short- and long-term goals as we design a treatment plan uniquely for you.
Physical Therapy Expertise: Our physical therapists specialize in spine conditions and work with you to alleviate pain and improve strength and flexibility.
Surgical Expertise: Our surgeons are fellowship-trained in complex spine surgeries. We perform more complex spine surgeries than any other medical center in central Ohio.
Research: You will benefit from Ohio State’s connections to national and international studies that provide you with the most current treatment methods and techniques in spondylolisthesis treatment.
Spine Center Registry: Through Ohio State’s Comprehensive Spine Center registry, we track our patients’ outcomes, including physical function and quality of life, and compare these to national and international results to help us select the most effective treatment methods.