Spondylolisthesis: What is It, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Procedure?

By Dr. Mihir Bapat in Institute for Bone, Joint Replacement, Orthopaedics Spine and Sports Medicine , Spine Surgery Unit

Apr 24 , 2023 | 3 min read

Back pain is an extremely common condition these days but you should also try to find out the real cause of your pain and whether surgery will actually help. Most of the back pains which are experienced by people usually resolve within a period of three months. Non- surgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, heat, and physical therapies usually provide relief in your back pain but if this doesn't happen then surgery is recommended by your doctors. There are many types of back problems, one of which is spondylolisthesis. There are a lot of best spine surgery hospitals in India which you can consult to find out the root cause and the type of back problem you are having.

The abnormal slipping or dislocation between two vertebrate is known as spondylolisthesis. It comes from a Greek word spondylos and oliothesis meaning vertebrate and slipping respectively. In this condition, a link in the central pillar is unstable and is a pure mechanical failure. Some people experience chronic low back pain, leg pain, or neurogenic claudication from spinal stenosis and some people experience no symptoms at all.

Also Read About Spine Pain

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

Many people don't notice any symptoms at all. But some symptoms might occur due to the weakness of the spine. The irritation which is experienced at the level of the slippage or any abnormal movement might produce back pain. Activities such as walking and standing worsen the pain and taking rest provides relief in the pain. This type of pain is called mechanical pain. Due to the irritation of the nerve roots which gets stretched and compressed by the slipped vertebrates results in weakness and numbness in some patients. Some patients might also experience leg pain (sciatica, radiculopathy). Adult patients may experience some other degenerative changes along with slippages like arthritis or spondylosis of the spine, such as disc bulging, enlarging ligaments (hypertrophy), facet joint overgrowth and bone spurs. This leads to spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication because of the narrowing of the spinal canal caused by these changes.

Tests and Diagnosis of Spondylolisthesis

  • You can get an assessment of the bone anatomy with X-Rays and also the curvature and alignment of the vertebral column.
  • In order to see any abnormal or excessive movement or instability in the spine at the affected levels, Dynamic or flexion/extension X-rays are done.
  • To get the detailed images of soft tissues like the spinal cord and nerve roots, Magnetic Resonance Imaging is conducted.
  • CT-Scan provides images more detailed than X-Rays.


Treatment of Spondylolisthesis

At first non-surgical treatments are recommended mostly. Physical therapies, balance, and spinal mechanics are often combined with the strengthening of the back flank and abdominal muscles to provide dynamic support to the lower lumbar spine. Spondylolisthesis symptoms can become manageable with over the counter anti-inflammatory medications along with periodic pain management for flare-ups, possible including spinal injections. Some lifestyle modifications, weight loss and reconditioning may also be useful.


Patients who have severe, progressive and intolerable back and/or leg pain that does not improve with conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and activity modulation generally are recommended surgery.

Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital is the best hospital in India for the treatment of spondylolisthesis or any of your spine related problems. Since now you are aware of the symptoms and treatments of spondylolisthesis, you should go for the best spine surgery hospitals in India for your consultation and treatments.

Medically Reviewed

Dr. Mihir Bapat (Director & Sr Consultant - Nanavati Max Institute of Spine Surgery)

Dr. Mihir Bapat is Director & Sr Consultant at Nanavati Max Institute of Spine Surgery with an experience spanning over 25 years. He has performed over 8000 successful spine surgeries and had been awarded numerous accolades for his contribution in the field. He specialises in Column traumatology, Percutaneous Vertebroplasty for Compression Fracture and Complex Spinal Deformity Correction.

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