Spondylolisthesis isn’t just hard to say, it’s hard to live with. The condition occurs when a vertebra slides over the one below, usually in the lower spine. A patient may experience immediate, sharp pain when this happens. Conversely, patients can live with spondylolisthesis for years before any symptoms become present.
The most common symptom of spondylolisthesis is lower back pain, buttock pain and muscle weakness in the lower body. Often numbness in the legs accompanies this pain. Sometimes, if the spinal cord is sufficiently affected, a patient may have difficulties with bladder and bowel control.
The causes of spondylolisthesis vary. Often, the disorder is due to an injury or overuse. However, some individuals may develop spondylolisthesis after an infection that affects the bones in the spine. Lastly, sometimes spondylolisthesis occurs simply due to age. When bones become brittle, it is much easier for them to move and cause damage.
Treatment of spondylolisthesis depends on the severity of the symptoms. Most doctors suggest non-invasive treatments when the condition is initially diagnosed. They may suggest rest, cold therapy and medication. Physical therapy that includes the strengthening of back muscles is very often prescribed.
Physicians may recommend surgery for severe cases of spondylolisthesis. The typical surgery is invasive and harrowing. It also causes a great deal of pain. Fortunately, there is a better way.
Minimally invasive decompression uses advanced technology to treat the patient. First, the patient is given anesthesia so the problem area can be located with fluoroscopy. An endoscope is then used to remove a portion of bone or bone fragments that are causing the compression. A laser may be used to stop any bleeding and diminish tissue that could be harmful to recovery.
Like invasive surgeries, minimally invasive decompression is accompanied by a significant recovery period. Some patients may feel relief immediately, while others may have to wait months for a full recovery. This depends on the severity of the disorder as well as the patient’s own ability to heal. In order to speed the healing process, patients should always follow recovery orders, including a period of bed rest.
Minimally invasive fusion is another option for patients with spondylolisthesis. Spinal fusion joins the spaces between the vertebrae, which relieves pressure on the nerves and spine. Traditional spinal fusion involves the cutting of muscles, which can lead to a long, painful recovery. Minimally invasive fusion only requires small cuts that do not enter the muscle.
Spine Institute Northwest utilizes Lumbar Interbody Fusion and Facet Fixation as well as Endoscopically Assisted Spinal Decompression to treat conditions like spondylolisthesis. Patients visit from all over the country to be treated using these minimally invasive techniques. If you are experiencing lower back pain and want to know more about what we can do for you, give us a call at (206) 496-0630. You can also use our handy, online form to contact us. If you have an existing CT scan or MRI, we are happy to give you a free consultation as well.