Spondylolisthesis describes a condition of forward slippage of one vertebra in the spine over another. This condition in adults is most commonly caused by degeneration of the discs and ligaments that bind and support the spine.
As the facet joints become arthritic due to this deterioration, they enlarge in an attempt to maintain stability of the spine. As the two vertebral segments adjoining the spinal canal slide past each other, the spinal canal narrows in size. The combination of spinal canal narrowing and enlargement of the facet joints produces the characteristic nerve compression problems found in degenerative spondylolisthesis.
Spondylolisthesis can cause compressive (or neurogenic) symptoms as the nerve roots at the segment involved are pinched. This can result in pain down the leg to the foot, numbness in the foot, and possibly weakness when trying to raise the foot.
Most of the symptoms of spondylolisthesis are aggravated by standing, walking and other activities.
Possible Treatment – Laminotomy
Surgery may be necessary if medication, physical therapy, and exercise fail to keep spondylolisthesis pain at a tolerable level.
This usually means that the nerves that exit the spine must be freed of all pressure and irritation, which is usually done by performing a laminectomy. A laminotomy performed by Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon, Alfred O. Bonati M.D., or another Bonati Spine Institute surgeon, removes a portion of the lamina, the “roof” over the vertebra.
Removing a portion of the lamina gives the surgeon access to the spinal canal so the surgeon can create more room for the nerves of the spine, and thereby reduce the irritation and inflammation on the nerves.