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Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition that occurs when one of the vertebrae – the bones in the spine – moves forward, slipping too far and onto the bone below. When the vertebra slips too far, it may place too much pressure on a nerve or even result in nerve crowding, which in turn causes leg pain or numbness.
One of the most common spondylolisthesis symptoms is lower back pain, which may even extend down to the buttocks or thighs. However some people who have the condition may not have any symptoms. On the other hand, others may suffer from stiffness in the back, muscle tightness and spasms, difficulty standing or walking for long periods of time, pain spreading down the legs, tight hamstrings, pain when bending over, pain in the buttocks, and/or numbness, weakness, or tingling in the foot.
The condition is diagnosed with the help of imaging techniques such as, X-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan. These scans show if a vertebra has slipped and how out-of-place is its position.
The healthcare practitioner will typically design a spondylolisthesis treatment plan, based on the degree of the slip and severity of the symptoms. Typically surgery is only advised if there is high-grade spondylolisthesis resulting in severe pain or disability or when non-surgical options have failed to offer any relief. In most cases, non-surgical treatments such as, rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and bracing are tried first. Treatment focuses on strengthening the supportive abdominal and back muscles with the help of spondylolisthesis exercises or physical therapy.