Facts and Tips about Spondylolisthesis

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  • Spondylolisthesis is easier to understand if you separate the word into 2 parts. Spondylo means spine and listhesis means slippage. Put it back together and spondylolisthesis means one vertebral body slips forward over the one beneath.
  • Spondylolisthesis is a common cause of back pain in teenagers. Sometimes symptoms develop during a growth spurt.
  • The severity of a spondylolisthesis is graded on a scale from 1 to 5. Grade 1 is a forward slip between 1% to 25%, and grade 5 is a forward slip between 76% to 100%.
  • MRI EquipmentAlthough an ordinary x-ray can detect a spondylolisthesis, an MRI is needed to view involvement of spinal nerves. Spinal nerve compression can cause pain and other symptoms.
  • Most patients with a spondylolisthesis lead full lives. However, chronic pain related to a spondylolisthesis can result in inactivity. Inactivity increases the risk for weight gain, loss of bone mineral density, and muscle strength. Proper care by a spine specialist is suggested.
  • It may not be possible to prevent a spondylolisthesis, but eating right, maintaining normal body weight, and regular strengthening exercises are always healthy choices.
Updated on: 09/15/15
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Exams and Tests for Spondylolisthesis
Jason M. Highsmith, MD
This article was reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD.
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Exams and Tests for Spondylolisthesis

Most people find out they have spondylolisthesis when they have an x-ray for another problem, and it reveals a slipped vertebra.
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