Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one bone of the spinal column (vertebra) slips forward over another. This is caused by a deformity or weakening in part of a vertebra.

This condition results in a misalignment of the vertebrae. In some instances, this may lead to spinal cord or nerve root compression, back pain, and numbness or weakness in the legs.

Certain types of athletes (particularly weight lifters, football players, gymnasts, and javelin throwers) are at increased risk for developing this defect, as are Inuit (Eskimos).

A doctor diagnoses spondylolisthesis from a person's symptoms and the results of imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI.

Treatment usually includes a combination of bracing, exercises and stretching, and pain medication. Sometimes surgery is also needed.

Last Updated: February 3, 2010

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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