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Spondylolisthesis is defined as the forward displacement of one vertebra over another—usually the fifth lumbar on the sacrum or the fourth lumbar vertebra on the fifth.

Symptoms of spondylolisthesis may involve back or leg pain. Some people experience changes in their posture or gait pattern or sensation of the legs.

If you have these symptoms, the team at Twin Cities Spine Center (TC Spine) can help. Our spine specialists have extensive expertise in diagnosing and treating spondylolisthesis using both nonsurgical and surgical approaches.

Causes of Spondylolisthesis

A fracture, break or defect of a small portion of the vertebrae in the spine (the pars interarticularis), also known as spondylolysis, often leads to spondylolisthesis. This defect may be present at birth, occur as the vertebrae develop, or as the result of degeneration or injury. In some cases, the cause of a defect in the pars is unknown.

Spondylolisthesis Treatment

The right treatment for spondylolisthesis depends on the amount of slippage, severity of symptoms and age at the time of diagnosis.

At TC Spine, we attempt to use nonsurgical treatments for spondylolisthesis whenever possible. Nonsurgical treatments include activity modification, brace or cast application, physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and periodic monitoring of symptoms or slippage.

While nonsurgical treatments won't fix the slippage, they can often relieve symptoms and help patients avoid surgery.

Surgery may be needed if there is no response to the nonsurgical treatments, if there is progressive or severe slippage or development of leg muscle weakness, or if there are changes in bowel or bladder function. Spinal fusion of the affected area is the most common surgery performed.