Spondylolisthesis - Causes

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What causes spondylolisthesis?

There are five major types of lumbar spondylolisthesis.

  1. Dysplastic spondylolisthesis: Dysplastic spondylolisthesis is caused by a defect in the formation of part of the vertebra called the facet that allows it to slip forward. This is a condition that a patient is born with (congenital).
  2. Isthmic spondylolisthesis: In Isthmic spondylolisthesis, there is a defect in a portion of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis. If there is a defect without a slip, the condition is called spondylolysis. Isthmic spondylolisthesis can be caused by repetitive trauma and is more common in athletes exposed to hyperextension motions, including gymnasts and football linemen.
  3. Degenerative spondylolisthesis: Degenerative spondylolisthesis occurs due to arthritic changes in the joints of the vertebrae due to cartilage degeneration. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is more common in older patients.
  4. Traumatic spondylolisthesis: Traumatic spondylolisthesis is due to direct trauma or injury to the vertebrae. This can be caused by a fracture of the pedicle, lamina, or facet joints that allows the front portion of the vertebra to slip forward with respect to the back portion of the vertebra.
  5. Pathologic spondylolisthesis: Pathologic spondylolisthesis is caused by a defect in the bone caused by abnormal bone, such as from a tumor.
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Comment from: myrn42189, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 09

I am 56 year old Nurse with an X-ray that shows spondylolisthesis grade 1 my MRI shows grade 1 anterolisthesis and advanced/severe facet arthropathy. Call it what you will I have most recently been out of work for 6 days and have applied for FMLA to protect my job. The hamstring pain, tightness, and electric shock that shoots down my right leg to my foot is excruciating. I can walk 3 or 4 feet and then I have to bend over to relieve it. I am a recovering addict so NSAIDs acetaminophen, anti-seizure medication for nerve pain and rest are what helps after about four days. I feel so depressed and fearful during these episodes and I feel like I just don't want to live like that. This last episode I am not sure if my brief yoga practice initiated the exacerbation or what it was. I am getting ready to get back to work and I am afraid with every movement it will happen again. I am trying to take it one day at a time and am scheduled for my second epidural. The cause old age ... degenerative arthritis and 25 years of nursing...

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Comment from: Niven, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 26

I too like many of the people here, suffer with L5, S1 spondylolisthesis. My spine has degenerated and slipped causing untold amounts of pain and it is 24/7 with lack of sleep caused by the pain. I also get referred pain in my left side of abdomen and numbness in legs and pins and needles in feet etc. I am at the stage where I need surgery and have been offered one last thing which are facet joint injections as I have had epidural and root nerve and pars injections which have only taken away the numbness for a short while but now I"m back at square one again. I am very frightened at the thought of surgery and when I have my appointment after I have had the facet joint injections, I will go with the surgery option as I think as I have tried all other treatments. It is very important to keep going as best as you can but everybody copes differently and my heart goes out to you all.

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