About Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a medical condition in which a vertebra is dislocated from its proper place as it slips forward, backward or onto the vertebra below it. Spondylolisthesis or ‘slipping of the vertebra’ commonly occurs because of spondylolysis, a defect or fracture of one or both wing-shaped parts of a vertebra.

A fracture can be from injury, surgical procedure, weakening of spines, spinal stenosis, pars interarticularis fracture, and stress fracture. Other Spondylolisthesis causes include Congenital Spondylolisthesis and Degenerative Spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis commonly occurs at the base of the spine or in the Lumbar spine, but it may also occur at other spinal levels. Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis are painful but treatable conditions. Spondylolisthesis is treated effectively with both surgical and nonsurgical treatment options.

Spondylolisthesis stages

The stages of Spondylolisthesis are determined by the degree of slippage. Slippage is graded I through IV:

  • Grade I: 1% to 25% slip
  • Grade II: 26% to 50% slip
  • Grade III: 51% to 75% slip
  • Grade IV: 76% to 100% slip

Commonly, slippage of grade I and II does not require a surgical intervention. However, grade III and IV may require surgical procedures if the symptoms are not alleviated by therapeutic methods like physical therapy.


Most patients do not have any symptoms of Spondylolisthesis. Symptoms commonly manifest in later Spondylolisthesis stages, which predominantly include lower back pain and muscle spasms in the hamstring muscle.

In case the slipped vertebra is compressing spinal nerves, a person may feel neck pain and radiating pain in the leg and foot.

In some cases, degenerative Spondylolisthesis may cause sacroiliac joint dysfunction. In this spinal condition, the sacroiliac SI joint is affected, which causes pain in the lower back.

Image of 'Spondylolisthesis related' to 'Joint sease'


The first line of treatment for Spondylolisthesis is therapeutic treatments and exercises. Common nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Back braces
  • OTC drugs like anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Epidural steroid injections

If these methods remain ineffective, than spine specialists recommend spine fusion surgery to stabilize the slipped vertebra. A Spine fusion surgery is a minimally invasive spine surgery performed by a board-certified spine surgeon. The surgeon stabilizes the spine with a bone graft implant.

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