Spondylolisthesis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 7/31/2021

Spondylolisthesis is a condition of the spine in which there is a forward or backward slippage of one vertebra on an adjacent vertebra. The vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine. The condition is most common in the low back (lumbar spine) but can also occur in the mid to upper back (thoracic spine) or neck (cervical spine).

Spondylolisthesis can result in 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). Symptoms can include

  • pain in the low back or legs,
  • numbness and tingling in the legs, and
  • tightness or muscle spasms in the hamstring muscles.

Other associated symptoms can include

Causes of spondylolisthesis

Causes of spondylolisthesis include trauma or injury, degenerative diseases of the bone and joints, tumors, or birth defects.

Other spondylolisthesis symptoms and signs

  • Back Stiffness
  • Difficulty Walking or Standing for Long Periods
  • Numbness and Tingling in the Legs
  • Pain in the Low Back or Legs
  • Pain When Bending Over
  • Tightness or Muscle Spasms in the Hamstring Muscles


Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life. See Answer

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.