Patient Comments: Spondylolisthesis - Causes

What was the cause of your spondylolisthesis?

Comment from: HollyPiedra, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 02

I am 39 years old, a Navy veteran, wife, and mother of 2 small children. I have grade 4 spondylolisthesis and anterolisthesis of my L5 S1. I am in an extreme amount of pain every day, all day. I can't stand for more than a couple of minutes, but I still push myself to try for longer. I can't walk for more than 50 feet, but again, I push myself as much as I can. I am a stay at home mom and doing daily chores is daunting to say the least. I am only allowed to exercise my arms by sitting down. Any other full body exercise runs a very high risk of paralyzing me from the waist down. My doctors can't figure out how I am still able to walk with the severity of my injury. I know it's horrible, but reading the other stories of how people have the same issues I do gives me some sort of relief. Mentally at least. I'm not alone. Hugs and wishes to all who have this horrible issue. I wish you all the best and hope for some relief of your pain.

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Comment from: JDerek, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 14

I joined the Army at the end of 1996 at the age of 24. On my 12th jump in 1998 I had a one in a million malfunction. After being taken to the hospital and all the x-rays they told me I had broken the facet on my L-5 vertebra and had subsequently acquired spondylolisthesis. They gave me some Airborne candy and sent me back to work. Six months, 3 more airborne operations and a 20K later I couldn't stand up straight. More x-rays and I was told I had broken the other facet on the tight and my airborne days and career were over. It took them 2 years to get through the process of medically discharging me during which time I was evaluated by an orthopedist. I was informed that I ran a high risk of being paralyzed from the waist down because both facets had been totally obliterated and there was nothing holding my spine to my pelvis. After the surgery, I pushed my physiotherapy and myself in an attempt to meet the minimum standards that would allow me to remain on active duty. It worked until 2007. During my second deployment the daily pain that I dealt with was getting to the point of being unmanageable without stronger medication which would impair my ability to do my job. At which point I was medically discharged. The pain hasn't gone away. It's a constant reminder. By the time I had the fusion done I had contracted lumbar spinal stenosis as an MRI revealed in 2009. The disk between my L-5 and S-1 wasn't removed before the fusion and sits dangerously close to my spinal column. This causes all sorts of weird sensations in my lower extremities not to mention loss of strength. Add in the added instability of my mid and upper back and I have interesting issues going both ways.

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Comment from: DOUG, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: June 12

When I was 19 (1979) I was in the best shape of my life, a brown belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, when a body-builder got me involved in weight lifting. On day I arched as I bench pressed 225 lb. when I felt something happen to my lower back. When I went to get up off the bench I fell to the ground with a numb left leg. I was diagnosed with a grade II L5 -S1 spondylolisthesis. I have suffered severe nerve pain ever since and can't stand the pain medications so I have been overusing alcohol for past 15 years, although I seem to be able to go days without drinking as long as I ice my back after work. I've been terrified to have the surgery but my L5 has slipped to grade III. I have seen numerous surgeons but always back out last minute. I think I may just take the leap of faith and get the fusion before I can't walk. It's a very tough decision but at 54 years old I may be at the point of no return.

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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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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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