Spondylolisthesis is a condition when the spine shifts from its normal position. This condition can attack all parts of the spine, from the top, middle, to the bottom. Spondylolisthesis generally causes complaints of unbearable pain.

Spondylolisthesis is different from a “pinched nerve” or herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP). Spondylolisthesis occurs when one or more vertebrae move from their normal position. While HNP occurs because the bearings between the vertebrae shift and press on the nerves in the spine.

In mild cases of spondylolisthesis , symptoms can be relieved by rest and exercises for the spine. Whereas in severe cases, spondylolisthesis can cause serious problems, such as numbness and paralysis in the legs. Therefore, immediately consult a doctor as soon as the symptoms of spondylolisthesis appear.

Causes of Spondylolisthesis

The causes of spondylolisthesis vary widely, including:

  • Birth defects in the spine
  • Sudden or repeated spinal cord injury
  • Tumors in the spine
  • Spinal erosion due to the aging process (degenerative)
  • Cracks in the spine or spondylolysis

Apart from the causes above, there are a number of factors that can increase a person's risk of experiencing spondylolisthesis, namely:

  • Have a joint or bone disease, such as arthritis or a fractured spine ( spondylolysis )
  • Doing sports that put extra pressure or strain on the spine, such as gymnastics, soccer, or weightlifting
  • Have a family that suffers from spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is also known to affect women more often, especially those over 50 years of age.

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis does not always cause symptoms, so the sufferer often doesn't realize it. However, severe spondylolisthesis is usually characterized by the following symptoms:

  • lower back pain
  • Lower back pain that radiates to the hips, buttocks, down to the toes ( sciatica )
  • Numbness or tingling from back to toe
  • Pain or a feeling of tightness in the thigh and buttock muscles
  • Abnormalities in the curvature of the spine, such as kyphosis
  • A feeling of weakness or weakness in the legs

When to see a doctor

Check with your doctor if the symptoms mentioned above appear. An examination to the doctor also needs to be done if you experience the above symptoms accompanied by a protruding spine.

Immediately see a doctor if you experience pain in your lower back that gets worse when you stand up and subsides when you lie down. You are also advised to undergo an examination if you experience pain or tingling in your lower back that radiates down to your feet.

Diagnosis of spondylolisthesis

The doctor will conduct a question and answer session with the patient about the complaints they are experiencing. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination, one of which is by asking the patient to raise his leg in a straight position. In many cases, people with spondylolisthesis will feel pain when doing it.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor can scan with X-rays , CT scans , or MRI . The supporting examination aims to see if there is a shift or crack in the patient's spine.

Spondylolisthesis Treatment

Spondylolisthesis treatment methods depend on the symptoms and severity experienced by the patient. Here is the explanation:

Mild spondylolisthesis

Patients with mild symptoms will usually be advised to get plenty of rest and avoid activities such as bending or lifting heavy objects. If needed, the doctor will carry out the following treatments:

  • Giving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to relieve pain
  • Injection of steroid drugs directly into the affected area of ​​the back
  • Physiotherapy , to strengthen the patient's back and abdomen
  • Special corset for pediatric patients, to help stabilize the spine

Severe spondylolisthesis

In severe spondylolisthesis or if the patient's condition does not improve after undergoing the above treatment, the doctor will suggest spinal surgery. Spinal surgery can also be done if the spine has shifted far enough or until it presses on a nerve.

The surgical method performed by doctors can be a combination of open surgery and robotic spine surgery . In this operation, the doctor will install spinal implants using special bolts or take bone from other parts of the body.

Although spinal surgery can treat spondylolisthesis, this procedure is quite risky for the patient. Apart from taking a long time to recover, spinal surgery can cause side effects, such as:

  • Deep vein thrombosis ( deep vein thrombosis ) or blood clots in the leg veins
  • Difficulty controlling urination or bowel movements, numbness or even paralysis in the limbs due to damage to the spinal cord
  • Infection in the surgical area

Spondylolisthesis Complications

Spondylolisthesis can cause serious complications if not treated immediately. These complications include:

  • Prolonged lower back pain
  • Kyphosis or abnormal curvature of the spine
  • Difficulty controlling urination and bowel movements
  • Permanent damage to the spinal nerves
  • Numbness to paralysis in the legs

Prevention of Spondylolisthesis

Although spondylolisthesis is difficult to prevent, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing this condition, namely:

  • Maintaining ideal body weight so as not to burden the spine
  • Eat a balanced nutritious diet to maintain bone health
  • Exercise regularly, especially those that can strengthen the abdominal and back muscles
  • Avoiding types of sports that are at risk of causing injury to the spine
Back to blog