Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

Slipped Vertebral Body

Treatment for Degenerative Spine Changes

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below. Degenerative spondylolisthesis usually occurs in the lumbar spine, especially at L4-L5. It results from degenerative changes in the vertebral structure, which cause the joints between vertebrae to slip forward. This type of spondylolisthesis is most common among females over age 60.

Causes of Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

Degenerative spondylolisthesis is usually the result of age and wear and tear on the spine, which breaks down vertebral components. This condition is different from isthmic spondylolisthesis since there is no bone defect. Spinal stenosis tends to occur in the early stages of degenerative spondylolisthesis.

Treatment for Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

For most cases of degenerative spondylolisthesis (especially grades I and II), conservative treatment consists of:

  • Temporary bedrest
  • Restriction of activities that caused symptom onset
  • Pain/anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid-anesthetic injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Spinal bracing

Degenerative spondylolisthesis can be progressive and may cause stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that compresses the spinal cord. If the stenosis is severe and non-operative treatments have failed, surgery may be necessary.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is rarely needed unless the case is severe (usually grade III or above), neurological damage has occurred, the pain is disabling or all non-operative treatment options have failed.

The most common surgical procedure used to treat spondylolisthesis is called a laminectomy and fusion. In this procedure, the spinal canal is widened by removing or trimming the laminae (roof) of the vertebrae. This is done to create more space for the nerves and relieve pressure on the spinal cord. The surgeon may also need to fuse vertebrae together. If a fusion is done, devices like screws or interbody cages may be implanted to enhance fusion and support the unstable spine.

Expert NJ & PA Treatment for Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

Most people will experience some degenerative spine changes as they age, but severe spondylolisthesis only affects a small percentage of the population. Much of the time, degenerative disorders of the spine respond to conservative, non-surgical treatment. Your doctor will work closely with you to educate you about treatment options and develop an informed, step-by-step plan for intervention. To schedule an appointment with our highly skilled physicians, call 609.921.9001 (New Jersey) or 215.741.3141 (Pennsylvania).

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