Spondylolisthesis Treatment in Richmond, VA
Spondylolysis is the technical term for the fracture of a spinal vertebra. When the fracture weakens the bone to the point that it cannot maintain its proper position, the vertebra can shift or slip out of place, resulting in spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is basically the progression of spondylolysis. With extreme slippage, the vertebra may begin to press on nerves, causing nerve damage. Spondylolisthesis can have no symptoms at all, or in advanced cases with nerve damage, paralysis of the lower extremities may result.
In children, the fracture usually occurs in the fifth lumbar vertebra in the lower back and is usually the result of a birth defect where the vertebral bone is thin at birth and thus more likely to fracture. Slippage sometimes occurs in periods of rapid growth. Fracture and slippage can also be precipitated by sudden trauma.
In adults, arthritis is the most common cause, but bone disease and fractures can also cause spondylolisthesis. A fractured vertebrae (spondylolysis) is the most common cause of lower back injury and pain in adolescent athletes. In both adults and adolescents, sports like football, weight lifting and even gymnastics stress the vertebrae in the lower back, causing repeated hyperextension or overstretching of the spine. Resulting stress fractures weaken the vertebrae and can cause them to shift out of their normal positioning.
Lordosis, or swayback, can result, as can kyphosis (roundback) where the upper spine falls off the lower spine.
Diagnosis of Spondylolisthesis
At one end of the spectrum, spondylolisthesis can have no symptoms at all, or at the other end, it can cause paralysis of the lower extremities. You should not attempt to handle a possible spinal injury without consulting a physician, especially if you experience:
- Back pain and stiffness that does not improve over time even with reduced activity
- Weakness or numbness in one or both of your legs
- Noticeable back curvature
- Pain in thighs and buttocks that does not go away
- Extreme discomfort when raising and holding either leg out in front of you
Physical examination, X-rays or even an MRI or CT Scan may be required to assess the damage to your spine and determine whether the vertebra has fractured and slipped forward onto the vertebra below.
Treatment options vary, depending on the extent of the slippage, but treatment always begins with nonsurgical interventions like changes in activity level, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy or a back brace. Most individuals improve with exercises to stretch and strengthen lower back muscles and can slowly resume activities. In some cases, it may be necessary to avoid certain sports or change your activity level permanently to protect your back from overextension and further damage.
You may require referral to an orthopedic surgeon if your spinal cord is unstable or has been damaged. A spinal fusion is one surgical option for spondylolisthesis. If surgery to fuse the shifted vertebra is deemed necessary, it is usually only when there is a severe or progressively worsening shift, the nerves are being impacted, or pain has not diminished over time with rest and treatment. Typically, a spinal fusion is performed between the lumbar vertebra and the sacrum, sometimes utilizing an internal brace with screws and rods to hold the vertebra together as the fusion heals. There is always the risk of nerve damage and paralysis with surgery, but results can be successful.
Request more information about spondylolisthesis and treatment options today. Call (540) 356-3353 or contact Dr. Anne Truong online.
Truong Rehabilitation Center
Address10340 Spotsylvania Ave
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Tue: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Wed: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Thu: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Fri: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm