Spondylolisthesis Causes and Symptoms
What Causes Spondylolisthesis?
The spine is made of vertebrae and each one is joined together by small joints called facets, which lines up the vertebrae and allows you to bend, twist and turn. Spondylolisthesis is caused when one or more of these facet joints become degenerative, weak or fractures allowing for the vertebrae to move or slip to some degree. Main causes of spondylolisthesis are:
- A defective facet joint you have had since birth (congenital)
- A facet joint damaged by trauma or an accident
- A stress fracture from overuse of the facet joint
- An arthritic facet joint or an infection
This condition can affect children and teens that are involved in high impact sports such as gymnastics, weightlifting and football. The high impact and overuse of the backbones and facet joints can cause stress fractures in the vertebrae and can result in spondylolisthesis. Older adults can develop spondylolisthesis because of wear and tear from physically demanding work that leads to fractures. The condition can also occur without fractures because of weakening of the ligaments that connect the vertebrae thus allowing for slippage.
Spondylolisthesis are graded according to how much one vertebra slips compared to the adjacent vertebra:
Grade I – Less than 25 percent
Grade II – Between 25 and 50 percent
Grade III – Between 50 and 75 percent
Grade IV – More than 75 percent
Grade V – Spondyloptosis occurs when the vertebra has completely fallen off the next vertebra.
What are the Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis can be present to some degree and the patient never has any symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of spondylolisthesis are:
- Pain traveling from the low back down on or both legs
- Numbness or weakness in one or both legs
- Walking difficulty
- Back or buttock pain, that gets worse with bending over or twisting
- Loss of bowel or bladder control