What is Spondylolisthesis?

What is Spondylolisthesis

In Spondylolisthesis, one of the bones in your spine — called a vertebra — slips forward and out of place. This can occur anywhere along the spine, but is most common in the lower back. Some may not have any symptoms at all, while others may have back and leg pain that could be mild or severe.


Your spine is made up of small bones which are stacked on top of one another and create the natural curves of the back. These bones connect to create a canal that protects the spinal cord. Between your vertebrae are flexible intervertebral disks. These act as shock absorbers when you walk or run.

Types of Spondylolisthesis

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

As we get older, general wear and tear causes changes in the spine. The disks in your spine lose height, become stiff, begin to dry out, weaken, and bulge. As these disks lose height, the ligaments and joints that hold our vertebrae in proper position begin to weaken. In some cases, this can create instability and ultimately result in degenerative spondylolisthesis. As the spine continues to degenerate, the ligaments along the back of the spine may begin to buckle, resulting in nerve compression. Women are more likely than men to have degenerative spondylolisthesis, and it is more common in patients over the age of 50.

Spondylolytic Spondylolisthesis

Another common cause of spondylolisthesis is a crack in the vertebra. This typically occurs in an area of the lower spine. In most cases, the fracture occurs during adolescence and goes unnoticed until adulthood. The normal disk degeneration that occurs in adulthood can then stress the fracture and cause the vertebra to slip forward. The stress fracture does not always cause the slip to occur.

Common Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

  • Pain in your lower back, often worse when standing or walking and relieved when sitting or bending forward
  • Pain, numbness or tingling spreading from your lower back down 1 leg
  • Pain spreading to your bottom or thighs
  • Tight hamstrings

Get Back the Activities You Love

Don’t let pain keep you from doing everything that you enjoy. Contact the expert team at AZBSC Spine & Orthopedics today!