What Are the Best Treatment Options for Spondylolisthesis

May 23, 2023
 What Are the Best Treatment Options for Spondylolisthesis
Your body counts on the stability of your spine for posture and movement. When a vertebra in the lower back moves in relation to its lower neighbor, you have a condition called spondylolisthesis. Read on to learn your treatment options.

Your spine is a complex structure and the central pillar upon which your body is built. Composed of bones and discs surrounding the spinal cord with nerve roots branching through, many disorders affect the spine and its supporting soft tissue. 

Lower back pain is a common challenge that many people experience. One spinal issue that causes lower back pain is spondylolisthesis, a condition where a vertebra moves or shifts and places pressure on the vertebra below it. 

Though it doesn’t always cause symptoms, spondylolisthesis could lead to nerve compression that causes pain at the site of nerve compression or anywhere along that nerve’s path. It can also interfere with the normal movement of the spine. 

Coast Neurosurgical Associates, located in Long Beach, California, specializes in a range of treatments for spondylolisthesis. Your best treatment options depend on the type and severity of your condition. Mild to moderate cases often resolve with conservative care, while severe spondylolisthesis could require surgery. 

Common types of spondylolisthesis

The most common form of spondylolisthesis is degenerative, resulting from the effects of aging. Spinal discs often lose moisture and thin, allowing the discs and vertebrae to move from their normal positions. 

Isthmic spondylolisthesis happens because of vertebral fractures, and congenital spondylolisthesis is a birth defect that develops into a spinal misalignment later in life. 

Injury, disease, or surgery can also create conditions that cause spinal instability. As many as 6% of the adult population may have spondylolisthesis, but that’s only an estimate because the condition is often asymptomatic. The risk for degenerative spondylolisthesis climbs after the age of 50, and the condition affects more women than men. 

Nonsurgical treatment

When first diagnosing spondylolisthesis, we use medical imaging to record your current status as a basis for future comparison. That monitors the progress of the condition, and it could affect treatment, depending on further advancement of vertebra movement. 

Common conservative treatments include: 

  • Pain management: controlling pain due to spondylolisthesis also assists other aspects of your treatment
  • Physical therapy: designed to strengthen core muscles that assist with spinal stability
  • Corticosteroid therapy: injections of powerful anti-inflammatory medication
  • Functional therapy: adapting daily activities to reduce the stress on your lower back
  • Braces and supports: medical appliances that offer your spine additional support

In some cases, nonsurgical treatments can stop the progression of your condition and provide sufficient pain relief. If your case is due to degenerative conditions, like arthritis or osteoporosis, the progress of the underlying disease advances spondylolisthesis. 

Surgical options

Surgery for spondylolisthesis utilizes three goals for success: 

  • Decompression of nerve roots
  • Stabilizing the spine against further slippage
  • Restoring pain-free spinal function

While there are many approaches depending on the nature of your condition, surgery usually takes the form of a nerve tissue decompression that may be accompanied by spinal fusion. 

Decompression removes tissue, like bone or disc, to create space for the nerve tissue. That relieves pain at the site and along the nerve path. Fusion connects adjacent vertebrae to stabilize the spine, but it may come at a cost of reduced mobility. Spondylolisthesis surgery is usually successful. 

Contact Coast Neurosurgical Associates online or by phone to schedule a consultation. We’re ready to assist you with relief from your spondylolisthesis condition, so book your visit now.