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What Are the Best Treatment Options for Spondylolisthesis?

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints for both men and women. Not surprisingly, painful symptoms also become more common with age.

Most people are familiar with herniated, or slipped, discs and muscle strain as causes of spinal pain. But there are plenty of other problems that can trigger pain, particularly in your lower back and neck, including a condition called spondylolisthesis.

Dr. Kenneth I. Light is a leading spine specialist in San Leandro, California, offering state-of-the-art treatment options for spondylolisthesis. If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, here’s how he can help you find relief from your painful symptoms.

Spondylolisthesis: Causes and symptoms

Spondylolisthesis has a long name, but it can be described in pretty simple terms. This condition occurs when one of the bones in your spine — called vertebrae — slips forward onto the bone below it. That slippage can cause nerve compression that in turn results in localized pain, along with radiating pain in your legs or arms. 

Spondylolisthesis is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine) and the neck (cervical spine), the two areas of your spine that have the greatest mobility. While injury can cause some cases of spondylolisthesis, most cases are caused by the gradual degeneration of the spine that happens as you get older. 

Degeneration causes the spongy discs between the vertebrae to become thin, making it easier for the bones to shift out of place. Other causes include:

Rarely, spondylolisthesis can be caused by a spinal defect that’s present when you’re born.

As many as 6% of Americans have spondylolisthesis. It may not cause any noticeable signs in its early stages. But as it progresses, you can develop symptoms like:

While anyone can develop spondylolisthesis, it’s more common among women and among patients over age 50.

Treating spondylolisthesis

For very mild symptoms, conservative treatment options such as rest, physical therapy, and medication can provide relief. However, because degenerative changes are the most common cause of spondylolisthesis, there’s a good chance your symptoms will get worse over time. For more severe symptoms, surgery can be a very good solution.

Dr. Light offers different types of spinal surgery, depending on the underlying problem. For spondylolisthesis, spinal fusion surgery typically provides the best results.

In spinal fusion surgery, Dr. Light uses a bone graft taken from another part of your body — often your hip — and attaches the graft at the damaged area of your spine using screws or pins. Over time, the added bone tissue fuses with your spine, stabilizing and immobilizing the area to prevent slippage and the pain associated with spondylolisthesis.

Patient-centered care for back and neck pain

Back and neck pain can be debilitating, quickly taking over your life and preventing you from enjoying the activities you love. If you’re suffering from back or neck pain, Dr. Light can help. To learn more about your treatment options, call the office or request an appointment using our online booking tool.

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