You might think of your spine as one large bony structure, but in reality, it is composed of many small parts that all work together. There are actually 33 bones in the spine called vertebrae, and these are all stacked on top of each other with cushiony discs between them. If just one of the vertebrae becomes damaged, it can reduce the stability of the whole spine. When the condition gets bad enough, one vertebra may actually slip out of position onto a lower vertebra. This is referred to as spondylolisthesis, and it typically occurs in the lower spine. Below are some of the signs that this condition is present in your back.
- Low back pain: Because the spine contains highly sensitive nerve roots, any misalignment will cause pain. Standing and walking may be especially difficult, as the lower back supports most of the lower body.
- Loss of sensation in the legs and buttocks: When nerves are blocked by a slipped vertebra, you may lose feeling in areas of the lower body or feel a tingling sensation.
- Muscle tightness in the legs: Performing a straight-leg raise might be incredibly painful for a patient with spondylolisthesis, and not just in the back, but in the muscles of the legs too.
Understanding the workup and treatment of spondylolisthesis
There are many reasons this disorder can develop in patients. It may be the result of a genetic abnormality in which the vertebral bones are weakened. Degenerative disorders may also be responsible, and these include arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and osteoporosis. A fracture from an injury can also weaken the spine and cause it to fail. No matter what the cause, the treatment will typically begin with conservative methods, like physical therapy and bracing. Surgery can be performed if the condition is severe enough, and using minimally invasive techniques is highly successful.
For more information about spondylolisthesis and other conditions of the spine that may be causing you pain, visit SpineOne. Schedule a consultation with us on our website or call (303) 367-2225.