Five vertebral bones make up your lower back — also called your lumbar spine. These bones stack together and form the base of your spine. They support your body weight, but they’re susceptible to damage from repetitive activity and injury.
Spondylolisthesis is a back condition that develops when vertebrae slip out of place. They can put pressure on nerves in your back, causing symptoms that range from back pain and stiffness to radiating nerve pain throughout your body.
Back pain can keep you from living an active life, but treatment can relieve pain and other symptoms. Aron Rovner, MD, and our surgical team at New York Spine and Sports Surgery specialize in minimally invasive lumbar fusion. If you have spondylolisthesis that hasn't responded to other treatments, it’s time to learn how lumbar fusion could help relieve your pain.
What is spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a condition that causes vertebrae to slip out of place. If a vertebrae gets damaged, it can move forward and press against your spinal cord and nerves. Spondylolisthesis can be very painful, and it usually occurs in the lower back.
Spondylolisthesis can develop as the result of several different causes. Spondylolysis is a condition that occurs when a vertebrae suffers a stress fracture or crack, and it can develop into spondylolisthesis. Other causes of spondylolisthesis include congenital vertebrae problems, trauma, or deterioration caused by infection or disease.
Common symptoms of spondylolisthesis include:
- Severe lower back pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Muscle tightness
- Pain in the buttocks
- Radiating pain in the legs
While anyone can develop spondylolisthesis, children and teens are at greatest risk for this spinal condition. That’s because their bodies are still growing, and repetitive stress from sports can trigger injury in fragile vertebrae.
In many cases, spondylolisthesis symptoms improve with conservative treatment. Dr. Rovner generally begins by recommending rest, physical therapy, or a combination of conservative treatments to patients diagnosed with spondylolisthesis.
When to consider lumbar fusion for spondylolisthesis
A few of the most common treatments for spondylolisthesis include taking a break from sports and other activities, resting, and physical therapy. Physical therapy builds strength in abdominal and back muscles to support the weak area and minimize pain.
Many people with spondylolisthesis pain find that these conservative methods are enough to relieve their pain. However, conservative treatment may not be enough for everyone.
It could be time to consider a more advanced spondylolisthesis procedure when you still have severe pain and disability despite trying the popular conservative treatment methods.
How lumbar fusion works for spondylolisthesis
Dr. Rovner and our team perform minimally invasive lumbar fusion procedures to treat spondylolisthesis and other back pain conditions. If you have ongoing pain from slipping vertebrae, lumbar fusion could be a good option for you.
Lumbar fusion involves fusing vertebrae to one another for stability. In lumbar fusion, Dr. Rovner carefully removes damaged portions of affected vertebrae to relieve pressure from nearby nerves.
Then, he uses a bone graft to fuse the vertebrae together. The bone used in the grafting procedure may come from elsewhere in your body or from donor tissue. Once the graft is done, Dr. Rovner uses a combination of screws, plates, and rods to strengthen the spine.
Lumbar fusion can help people with spondylolisthesis because it gives the spine stability. It can correct vertebrae that have slipped and kept them from slipping out of place again.
Lumbar fusion could be the answer to your persistent spondylolisthesis pain. To learn more or to make an appointment with Dr. Rovner, call one of our offices in Garden City, New York, or Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Or you can send our team a message online.