Spondylolisthesis – North Texas*

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About Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal disorder that occurs when one vertebra slips forward, colliding with the bone beneath it. This condition is very common among older patients and if the vertebra moves too far forward, it could press on nerves in the patient’s back, placing stress on the bones and causing pain in the lower back. Fellowship-trained and board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Kendall Carll is skilled and experienced in the treatment of spondylolisthesis, and has been helping patients with the condition find the relief they need for more than 15 years. His practice, Spine Care of North Texas, offers facilities in Addison, Frisco, and Plano. Dr. Carll holds admitting privileges to several North Texas hospitals and surgery centers. Our team strives to provide relief from back pain in a minimally invasive manner through a variety of treatment options. Contact Spine Care of North Texas today for more information.

Causes

Spondylolisthesis is sometimes caused when one of the facet joints (that serve as connection points between the vertebrae) degenerates or fractures, or when a fracture occurs at the base of the spinous process (called a pars fracture). The facet joints help hold the vertebrae in a stable alignment. However, defects in the facet joints allow for unusual movement in the individual vertebra, causing a scenario where one vertebra may shift out of normal alignment. If the vertebra shifts, it can push on the spinal cord, allowing the adjacent spinous processes to rub against one another or the vertebrae to squeeze a branch of the spinal nerve, stimulating sharp pain signals.    

Spondylolisthesis can also occur when an intervertebral disc ruptures. In fact, spondylolisthesis is sometimes called “slipped disc disease,” even though technically it’s not the disc that has slipped out of position. When the disc ruptures, it reduces the space between the vertebrae above and below it, which may allow the vertebrae to pinch one of the two nerve branches that run on either side of the vertebra from the spinal column. This condition occurs more often in the cervical, lumbar, and sacral region of the spine, and rarely in the thoracic region.

Symptoms

The symptoms of spondylolisthesis can mimic the pain of many other back issues. It can cause pain in the arms if the problem occurs in the neck, and it can cause generalized instability in the spine if the slipped vertebra is in the lower back. Spondylolisthesis has also been associated with numbness in the legs. At times, patients experience a lack of or minor symptoms, such as hamstring tightness, stiffness, and tenderness, which could easily be confused with another less serious condition. Anyone experiencing back pain of any degree should seek the advice of an experienced spine surgeon like Dr. Carll to rule out the possibility of serious injury.

Diagnostic Measures

The diagnosing of spondylolisthesis will begin with a physical examination by Dr. Carll. During this exam, he will evaluate whether or not you have trouble raising your legs while in a seated position. If Dr. Carll feels you exhibit symptoms of the condition, he may request additional diagnostic testing. A series of x-rays, MRI images, and CT scans are often used to develop an accurate diagnosis and determine whether spondylolisthesis is the source of your pain. The scans will also be helpful in measuring the severity of the problem. A treatment plan will be created for your condition based upon the results of the exam and scans.

Treatment Options

Nonsurgical

Nonsurgical treatment for adult patients with spondylolisthesis consists of the same therapy used for other back conditions:

  • Pain medications, such as acetaminophen
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Oral steroids to reduce inflammation in the area that might be affected
  • Ice and heat
  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing may help reduce pain from excessive movement
  • Steroid injections can be administered to decrease inflammation in the affected area

Surgical

Spinal fusion surgery for spondylolisthesis is generally quite effective, but it is a major procedure that will involve insertion of screws and fixtures that are designed to keep the vertebrae from moving any further out of their normal alignment. It usually is not considered until a patient has not improved after six months of nonsurgical treatment. More often, Dr. Carll will utilize posterior dynamic stabilization devices that are affixed to the vertebrae. They help to keep the individual vertebrae properly spaced if the deterioration of the facet joints has affected the vertebral spacing. Stabilization devices also provide strength to the deteriorated section, reducing pressure on the facet joints. These devices are typically most useful when the vertebra is not completely compromised by deterioration. The stabilization devices can also be used in combination with artificial discs.

Specialized Treatments

Spondylolisthesis is a complicated name, but Dr. Carll and our team at Spine Care of North Texas strive to simplify your path to painless living. With extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of painful back conditions, Dr. Carll is equipped to help you obtain the treatment and relief you deserve. Call our office today to set up a consultation at one of our convenient North Texas locations.  

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.