Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra in the spinal column slips backward or forward and out of its original place. If a vertebra slips too much, it can press on a nerve and cause pain. The term spondylolisthesis derives from two words: spondylo which means spine and listhesis which means slippage. This condition most often occurs in the lumbar area at the base of the spine.

This condition is most commonly diagnosed in adults caused by degeneration of the discs and ligaments that bind and support the spine. Spondylolisthesis often begins in the teenage years, and with age, the intervertebral discs lose water content and ultimately height. As the vertebrae on either side of the disc come closer to each other, the upper vertebra slides forward over the sub-adjacent vertebra.

spondylolisthesis diagram

Spondylolisthesis and Facet Joints

Spondylolisthesis can also be associated with deterioration of the facet joints that connect vertebrae. 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. In degenerative adult spondylolisthesis, the most common forward slippage is of the L4 vertebra over L5 vertebra.

The Bonati Spine Institute encourages patients with spondylolisthesis to contact us to request a no-obligation MRI review or discuss your conditions with our medical professionals. Find out why The Bonati Spine Procedures are considered to be among the world’s best solutions when it comes to advanced spine surgery. Your pain from spondylolisthesis can become a thing of the past.