Spondylolysis vs Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis is a condition where there is a fracture at the vertebrae while Spondylolisthesis is the term used when one of the vertebrae slips out of alignment which may affect the spinal nerves. In some severe cases, if the bone is fractured too much, it can lead to the slippage of the bone. This injury is common in young athletes who often have chronic stress applied to the lower back.

Spondylolysis

As mentioned above, this is a condition when a fracture has occurred on the vertebrae. The vertebrae consists of 24 bones stacked on top of each other producing your spine which contains the thin but crucially important spinal cord. The fracture mostly occurs at the weakest area, pars interarticularis, which is the thin part of the vertebrae connecting the upper and lower facet joints. One of the most common area in the vertebrae for these fractures to occur is in the lumbar region, mostly at the fourth or fifth lumbar vertebra.

Spondylolisthesis

This condition is more prone to occur if you already have Spondylolysis. When the pars interarticularis portion of the vertebra is damaged or separated, it can lead to slippage of the vertebra in the forward position and causes pinching of the spinal nerves that affects other regions of your body. This commonly occurs at the lumbar region, where the “S” curve is prominent and most of the stress occurs at this region.

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Symptoms

Some symptoms may not occur if the cases are mild for both Spondylolysis and Spondyloisthesis. During mild cases, the condition is normally determined when looking through an x-ray. Symptoms of these conditions include low back pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, and difficulty standing or walking.

For Spondyloisthesis, numbness or tingling sensation can occur as there is impingement of the spinal nerves due to the shift in the vertebra.

Treatments

The goal of these treatments is to reduce pain, allow the fractures to heal so the individual can return to daily sport activities without major complications. There are two surgical and non-surgical treatments for these two conditions.

Non-surgical treatments include:

If these non-surgical treatments do not help then the doctor will recommended surgical treatment on the vertebra.

Prevention 

Always stay safe when playing sports to reduce the risk of developing Spondylolysis and Spondyloisthesis. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, make a quick appointment with one of our practitioner here at Rupert Health Centre as your vertebrae physically functions to protect your nerves, not to cause damage to them!