Spondylolisthesis

Dallas Spine Care

Robert J. Henderson, MD, FACS, FACSS

Spine Surgeon located in Dallas, TX

Although 4-6% of Americans have spondylolisthesis, most of them live for years before they develop symptoms. Once the condition worsens enough to cause pain, you may need surgery to repair the slipped vertebra. Robert J. Henderson, MD, at Dallas Spine Care, has helped many patients get long-lasting relief from their back and leg pain with surgery that targets their precise problem to achieve optimal results the first time. To get customized treatment for your back pain, call the office in Dallas or schedule an appointment online.

Spondylolisthesis Q & A

What is spondylolisthesis and what causes it?

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips forward, moving out of alignment with the rest of your spine. There are two types of spondylolisthesis:

Degenerative spondylolisthesis

With daily wear and tear, degenerative changes in your spine lead to weak ligaments, dehydrated discs, and arthritis in the facet joints that connect each vertebra. As these conditions weaken the spine’s structural support, you develop spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolytic spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis is a crack or stress fracture that affects the facet joint in your vertebrae. As the fracture weakens the bone, the vertebra slips forward. 

In many cases, the fracture occurs during your teens but doesn’t cause symptoms until adulthood, when degenerative changes place additional stress on the fracture.

What symptoms develop due to spondylolisthesis?

At first, you may find that it’s hard to bend over but you won’t have much, if any, pain. Then as the spondylolisthesis worsens, you’ll experience symptoms such as:

  • Lower back pain
  • Back stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain radiating to your buttocks or thighs
  • Pain that’s worse when you stand or walk
  • Pain that improves when you’re at rest

As the vertebra slips out of position, it compresses the nearby nerves, causing pain, tingling, and numbness that may radiate down one or both legs.

How is spondylolisthesis treated?

A mild case of spondylolisthesis may be managed with oral medications and facet joint or epidural injections to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. However, the only way to correct the problem and achieve long-lasting pain relief is with surgery to realign the bones. 

Spinal surgery can be performed using a variety of techniques and approaches to the spine. The key to excellent results is choosing the proper procedure and executing it with precision and excellence. 

If you have spondylolysis, the first step is to repair the fracture. Then Dr. Henderson chooses from one of several types of decompression surgery, depending on where the nerve is compressed.

Dr. Henderson may perform a laminectomy to relieve pressure on the nerve by removing the bony roof of the vertebra. 

A foraminotomy enlarges the opening used by nerves to enter and exit the spinal canal. If you have a damaged disc, he performs a discectomy to remove all or part of the disc.

The most effective spinal fusion procedure for spondylolisthesis is an anterior and posterior column fusion. 

Approaching the spine from both sides also allows Dr. Henderson to aggressively repair the problem and correct spinal misalignment, then perform a fusion that produces a higher level of spinal stability.

If you develop back pain that doesn’t go away or worsens, call Dallas Spine Care or book an appointment online.