How does COVID-19 impact upcoming appointments?

During this time of public health concern, Ohio State Spine Care remains open, many appointments may take place via telehealth wherever it's possible and appropriate. For all in-person visits, you can feel confident that our locations are safe. We've taken significant measures to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and worked tirelessly to ensure that our patients are protected. Please call our office at 614-293-BACK(2225) to schedule. Be sure to visit our special COVID-19 patient and Telehealth webpages for more information. 

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
  • Fractures
  • Tumors

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, 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 Ohio State Spine Care are:

  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians
  • Physical therapists
  • Radiologists
  • Neurologists
  • 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 Spine Care 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.



Diagnosing Spondylolisthesis

Following a thorough history, physical and neurological exams, our spine surgeons may recommend any of the following tests to confirm whether a bone in your spine is abnormally aligned. All tests are available at Ohio State Spine Care:

  • X-rays 
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Electromyography (EMG), which can detect muscle weakness due to nerve problems


Treating Spondylolisthesis

Treating Spondylolisthesis

With expertise gathered from treating large numbers of people with spondylolisthesis, Ohio State’s spine specialists are best able to determine whether you are likely to benefit from non-operative care.

We offer treatments ranging from physical therapy to the most complex spine surgeries. Physicians, therapists and other care providers work together to provide you with options that increase mobility and reduce pain. Most people who come to Ohio State Spine Care do not require surgery.



Ohio State performs innovative research in the laboratory, as well as through clinical trials. 

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Areas of focus include:

Spinal Fusion Study: A clinical trial currently under way at Ohio State is testing whether vertebrae being fused during minimally invasive surgery can be held together with screws on one side instead of on both sides of the bone. Placing screws on only one side of the bone results in shorter surgery time, less blood loss and less pain following surgery.

Biomechanical Testing: We also are doing biomechanical testing to assess the spine before and after surgery. A specialized vest helps us measure the effectiveness of surgery. It ultimately may provide valuable information about which treatment methods will best increase mobility and function of the spine.

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Additional Information

Please obtain a physician referral before scheduling with our Spine Center and request previous imaging studies (e.g., MRI, CT, X-ray) on a CD from the place where your tests were performed. Please bring to your appointment these and other test results related to your back (e.g., EMGs, bone density reports, ultrasound reports) from your doctor(s).

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