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Spondylolisthesis

Introduction

Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebrae in the spine slips out of proper position onto the bone below it.

Anatomy

Slippage of discs most commonly occurs at the L4-L5 level, and the next most common area is the L5-S1 level.

Causes

Spondylolisthesis is usually caused by a birth defect or by sudden trauma to the spine.  Certain activities such as gymnastics, weight lifting, and football put a lot of stress on the lower back and also require that the athlete constantly overstretch the spine.  This can also sometimes lead to a stress fracture which can cause the bones to slip out of place.

Symptoms

Some people who have spondylolisthesis do not exhibit any symptoms.  People who do have symptoms usually experience low back pain, muscle tightness in the hamstrings, pain, numbness, or tingling in the thighs or buttocks, stiffness, weakness in the legs, and tenderness at the level of the slipped disc.  These symptoms do usually become worse after exercising./span>

Diagnosis

In order for your doctor to diagnose spondylolisthesis, you will need to have an x-ray done to see if you have any slipped discs.  If the vertebrae have slipped forward or backward, it will be easy for your doctor to make this diagnosis.

Treatment

A physical therapy program is one of the most effective ways to treat spondylolisthesis because it can help strengthen the muscles that support your spine and it can teach you how to keep your spine safe and prevent further and future injury.  You should take a break from sports and other activities until the pain from spondylolisthesis subsides.  A brace might be used in order to stabilize the lower back and ease your pain.  Physical therapy for this condition can help as you can learn different exercises and stretches to help increase flexibility and muscle strength.  Therapy will focus on exercises for the abdominal and back muscles, while minimizing movement of the spine.

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