Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Spondylolisthesis facts

  • Spondylolisthesis is a forward or backward slippage of one vertebra on an adjacent vertebra.
  • Causes of spondylolisthesis include trauma, degenerative, tumor, and birth defects.
  • Symptoms of spondylolisthesis include
    • lower back or leg pain,
    • hamstring tightness,
    • numbness and tingling in the legs.
  • The diagnosis of spondylolisthesis is based on imaging.
  • Most people with spondylolisthesis can be treated conservatively, without the need for surgery.
  • Patients who fail to improve with conservative treatment may be a candidate for surgery.

What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis (spon + dee + lo + lis + thee + sis) is a condition of the spine whereby one of the vertebra slips forward or backward compared to the next vertebra. Forward slippage of an upper vertebra on a lower vertebra is referred to as anterolisthesis, while backward slippage is referred to as retrolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis can lead to a deformity of the spine as well as a narrowing of the spinal canal (central spinal stenosis) or compression of the exiting nerve roots (foraminal stenosis). Spondylolisthesis is most common in the low back (lumbar spine) but can also occur in the mid to upper back (thoracic spine) and neck (cervical spine).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2015

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Spondylolisthesis - Effective Treatments Question: What was the treatment for your spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis - Causes Question: What was the cause of your spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis - Symptoms Question: What symptoms do you experience with your spondylolisthesis?