Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra in the spine, slips forward on the one below, usually in the low back just above your pelvis. This may be present from birth or develop later in life.
The most common symptoms of spondylolisthesis are low back and buttock pain and muscle spasm. Pain is usually aggravated by backward bending or sudden loading of the low back in running or jumping, and it may be eased by bending the spine forward. More serious cases may cause neurological symptoms like shooting pain, numbness or tingling or even weakness on walking or standing from a seated position.
Who it affects
Spondylolisthesis affects a wide range of people. In adolescents and young adults we commonly see it result from physical stresses on an immature spine, usually in sports such as football, cricket or gymnastics. A non-specific low back ache in an active teen may be the first sign of vertebral micro-fractures which can lead to spondylolisthesis.
Spondylolisthesis may also result from trauma like a car accident, or also as an age-related degenerative change.
What we do about it
The best management for spondylolisthesis will vary depending on how severe it is, and whether it is acute or ongoing. An early visit to an allied health professional such as an osteopath, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can help to accurately diagnose your condition, keep you functional and begin planning your recovery.