Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one vertebra slips over another. Here, the vertebra above slips over the vertebra below. Although this disorder most commonly occurs in the low back, it can occur in other regions of the spine. This condition can be the result of congenital defects in the spine, injuries to the spine caused by repetitive stress or by osteoarthritis weakening the joints of the spine. In the first two cases, there is a disconnection of the front of the spine from the back of the spine. In the third case, the arthritic joint no longer functions normally. The vertebra above slowly slips forward on the vertebra below. Deformity of the spine occurs with local pain and muscle spasm. Compression or stretching of the nerves or spinal cord can lead to various degrees of weakness and numbness. Problems with urinary tract and constipation can occur.
Causes of Spondylolisthesis
There are three conditions that can produce spondylolisthesis. The first are congenital disorders in which the pars interarticularis is incomplete. The pars interarticularis is the junction of the bone where the front of the spine is connected to the back of the spine. Second, repetitive trauma, particularly seen in young athletes, can cause fractures of the pars interarticularis. Last, osteoarthritis causes the joints to not function normally. Accordingly, the spine is allowed to gradually slip forward.
Signs and Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis
Many cases of spondylolisthesis may not produce symptoms. However, as the deformity increases in degree there may be weakness, numbness or tingling caused by pressure or distortion of the nerves and spinal cord. Problems with urinating and bowel movements may also occur. Local pain and deformity of the spine occurs. Muscle spasms develop in the region of the spine that is affected.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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