Orthopedic spine specialists Dr. Elian Shepherd, with the The Methodist Physician Group Specialists in Merrillville, Indiana, offer hope to those suffering from painful problems like spondylolisthesis. It takes the right combination of surgical and non-surgical approaches to relieve pain and restore mobility, which is why a specialist in spine care is the right choice.
The spine is made up of small bones stacked one on top of the other. The bones group into sections and connect together with a series of smaller joints designed to keep them all in alignment. With spondylolisthesis, one bone comes out of alignment and slides forward until it’s over the bone below it. This can happen anywhere along the back, but is more common in the lumbosacral region, which starts where the back bends and continues down to the end of the column.
The problem occurs in the joints that align the bones. When one weakens, it interrupts that critical spine alignment until the vertebrae bone moves out of place. There are a number of possible issues that factor into the joint weakening, such as:
Spondylolisthesis occurs with teens involved in gymnastics or weightlifting. The activity in these sports can cause stress fractures that lead to weak back joints. It’s also common in older people due to years of wear and tear on the back.
They vary based on severity and location, but some common symptoms include:
It’s possible to have spondylolisthesis and have no symptoms, as well.
There are multiple approaches to treating this condition. Dr. Shepherd will look at the patient's lifestyle to see if something is contributing to the problem and suggest a change. Taking medication to reduce inflammation is helpful, as well. Since this condition can affect children and adults, both, it’s best to ask the doctor before using an over-the-counter pain medication. Giving aspirin to anyone under the age of 20 can lead to Reye's syndrome, for example.
Physical therapy is necessary to build the muscle support system for the spine and keep discs in alignment. Losing weight will take the stress off the back and reduce pain levels, as well. Extreme cases may require surgical repair to fuse the affected bones in place.