Spondylolisthesis, or Slipped Vertebra

Spondylolisthesis is a condition from where one vertebra slips forward over the vertebrae below. (This is not to be confused with “slipped disc,” a common term for “herniated disc.”) This is most commonly seen in the lumbar spine, which is the lower region of the spine. Symptoms of lumbar spondylolisthesis include soreness in the area of the slippage, tightness or stiffness of the muscles of the lower back, pain in the lower back, thighs, and buttocks, and sciatica. Athletes such as weightlifters, football linemen, and gymnasts place tremendous stress on their low backs. This could lead to vertebral stress fractures on the right and left sides, which could cause instability and the bones to shift out of place leading to spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis could also develop secondary to degenerative disc and joint disease (arthritis), which can be a normal part of aging and could be present from birth (congenital).

Spondylolisthesis Diagnosis and Treatment

The severity of the spondylolisthesis and vertebral body slippage is measured on a lateral lumbar x-ray using the specialized Meyerding grading system.

Grade 1 is 0–25%
Grade 2 is 25–50%
Grade 3 is 50–75%
Grade 4 is 75–100%
Over 100% is when the vertebra completely falls off the supporting vertebra

Treatment for spondylolisthesis is based on the severity of the condition and may include activity modification, medications, activity physical modalities including heat, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and lumbar traction, physical therapy, exercise, chiropractic care, lumbar epidural injections, a back brace, and in severe cases, spinal surgery.

Today, in addition to more standard surgical procedures, minimally invasive surgery including lumbar interspinous process distraction and stabilization surgery may be a safe and effective treatment option for appropriately selected patients. New Jersey Spine Specialists in Summit and Montclair offer a complete range of therapies for spondylolisthesis and other spinal conditions, treating patients from Livingston, Millburn and throughout Essex and Somerset Counties and beyond. We invite you to call or email us today to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified physicians near you to discuss how our state-of-the-art spinal treatments can help you.

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