Lumbar spondylolisthesis is a condition that causes instability in your lower spine. J. Rafe Sales, MD, a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon, offers expert diagnosis and state-of-the-art treatment at his practice at St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. If you have a feeling of instability or weakness in your lower back, call Dr. Sales, or book an appointment online today.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when one of your vertebrae slips out of place. While this can happen anywhere in your spine, it most often develops in your lumbar (lower) spine.
In some cases, lumbar spondylolisthesis doesn’t cause symptoms. You might also experience lower back pain and sciatica symptoms like numbness, weakness, and pain in your hips and legs. You might find that sitting or bending forward, relieves your symptoms.
There are two types of lumbar spondylolisthesis, which are identified by their causes.
General wear-and-tear on your spine causes degenerative spondylolisthesis. As you age, your spinal discs become dry and weak. As they become stiffer and disc herniation occurs, you might start to develop degenerative spondylolisthesis. Without adequate support, your vertebrae can slide over a flattened disc and the disc below it.
A fractured vertebra causes spondylolytic spondylolisthesis. During a vertebra fracture, it’s common for the front part of the vertebra to separate from the lamina — the back part of the bone. Separated, the front piece of vertebra slides forward and over the bone beneath it.
Dr. Sales diagnoses lumbar spondylolisthesis with a comprehensive exam. After reviewing your symptoms and medical history, he examines your back and looks for tender spots or signs of inflammation. He might ask you to bend forward, side-to-side, or backward to assess your range of motion and gauge your pain. Dr. Sales might use X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to confirm your diagnosis.
Dr. Sales and his team take a conservative approach to treat spinal conditions. They typically begin with treatments like steroid injections and physical therapy. However, if nonsurgical treatments don’t effectively relieve your pain and heal your back, Dr. Sales can perform minimally invasive procedures to repair your spine.
Dr. Sales offers a variety of approaches and uses his experience and expertise to select the best method for each patient. Most patients spend less than 24 hours in the hospital for their operation, and with physical therapy, they can get back to work and other activities within a few weeks.
If you have lower back pain or are concerned about lumbar spondylolisthesis, call Dr. Sales, or book an appointment online today.