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Complications caused by Spondylolisthesis.

Depending upon the cause and severity, Spondylolisthesis can be serious in some cases. Constant low back pain, leg pain, numbness, or tingling sensation may result in extreme discomfort which may reduce a person’s ability to perform daily life activities. This can significantly lower the quality of life.

Potential complications caused by Spondylolisthesis are explained in this article by Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti the best neurosurgeon in Hyderabad, India.

 If not diagnosed and treated on time, the compression and stress exerted on the surrounding nerves and blood vessels may increase with time resulting in a condition called spinal stenosis at the lumbar region. It causes severe back pain that may radiate to one or both legs and weakness.

Spinal fractures can also be caused because of the excessive stress exerted on the underlying vertebra. Individuals who are already diagnosed with arthritis, osteoporosis, or any bone disease are at high risk of these fractures. The fractured vertebra may cause some serious damage to the surrounding nerves and blood vessels.

In extreme cases, the nerves present at the lowest part of the spine are compressed resulting in a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome. This syndrome is considered a medical emergency because if not treated properly, it can affect the feeling sensations in the legs, the functional ability of the bladder, and even paralysis.

Apart from spinal stenosis and fractures, Spondylolisthesis can also increase lordosis initially and when the upper back keeps exerting pressure on the lower back increasing forward spinal angulation it can cause kyphosis. Hamstrings tightness is a common feature of this. Spinal infection can also occur in rare cases.

Advanced radiological imaging can help in identifying the problematic area and the level of the damage. Usually, after diagnosing Spondylolisthesis it is advised to treat it with conservative methods first because of the possible risks associated with spinal surgery. But in severe cases where all conservative methods are exhausted yet no outcome is gained, then surgery is necessary.

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How is Spondylolisthesis treated?  

Spondylolisthesis can lead to some serious complications if not diagnosed and treated properly on time. According to the symptoms, the physical examination, and the radiological examination, a proper treatment plan should be started with immediate effect. The treatment of Spondylolisthesis depends on the severity of the condition. If the condition is not serious then it can be managed by non-surgical methods for pain management. But in severe cases surgical intervention is necessary.

Various surgical and non-surgical treatment options for Spondylolisthesis are explained in this article by India’s best neurosurgeon Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti.

Non-surgical treatment:

  • Rest:

Adequate rest and a break from strenuous activities should be taken. Sports and activities that put pressure on the low back should be avoided.

  • Physical therapy:

A physical therapist can teach a set of exercises that strengthen the muscles of the back and the abdomen. Doing these exercises regularly can reduce pain after some time.

  • Medications:

Anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to reduce the pain.

  • Back brace:

A brace can also be used to stabilize the spine and to limit the movements on the spine. It will help in the process of healing.

  • Injections:

Epidural steroid injections can also be used if the medications are not able to manage pain properly.

Surgical treatment:

It is always recommended to try out non-surgical methods first, but in severe cases surgery might be necessary. The goals and expected outcomes of the surgery include stability, pain relief, and functional restoration. The surgical procedure performed for this process is called spinal fusion. Firstly, spinal decompression is performed in which disc and bone are removed in order to reduce the pressure on the nerve. Then, in order to prevent any future slippage the affected vertebra are fused.

Functional activities can be resumed gradually. In most cases, pain is settled down after the recovery. It usually takes 4-8 months to fully fuse the bones.

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How can spondylolisthesis be diagnosed?

Spondylolisthesis is a condition resulting in a painful experience including low back pain and other symptoms as well. It can be very painful in some patients and quite bearable in others depending on the severity of the condition. The symptoms may aggravate if the nerves passing are pinched causing altered sensations in the affected part. Early diagnosis and proper treatment and precautions are key to leading a healthy life.

Methods that are considered when seeing a patient with Spondylolisthesis are described in this article by Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti who is well-known as the Best neurosurgeon in India.

The healthcare provider starts off the process by asking about the symptoms first. This correlation of the signs and symptoms gives an idea about the condition.

Further investigation is done through physical examination, in which several movements and special tests are performed on the affected area to differentiate it from other possible conditions.

Straight leg raise is performed while the patient is lying supine resulting in pain. At the lumbosacral region, a prominent Step off sign is seen indicating the slippage of the vertebra. Range of motion at the lumbosacral region i.e. flexion and extension are limited.

Several imaging tests are also advised to make sure of the condition.

X-rays of the lumbosacral region are done to see if the vertebra is displaced and how much is the displacement. Other than X-rays a CT scan or MRI may be advised to observe the spinal contents in more detail to see whether the nerves are compressed or not and how much damage has happened to the discs and the nerves.

Based on these investigations, the condition of the patient is usually categorized as Grade I or II determining less serious condition usually cured without any surgery, and Grade III or IV as high grade and more serious which can require surgery as the only treatment option. The healthcare provider makes a final diagnosis and starts the treatment as required.

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What symptoms does Spondylolisthesis cause?

Due to any congenital or degenerative cause, one of the vertebrae slips out of its position onto the one that is beneath it. This causes increased pressure on the lower vertebra resulting in pain and functional limitations. It can also affect the spinal nerves passing through the area involved by compressing them. The severity of the condition depends on the cause and the region.

In order to understand Spondylolisthesis in detail, India’s best neurosurgeon Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti has explained various symptoms that may result from this condition.

The symptoms usually caused by Spondylolisthesis are as follows:

1.Low back pain:

The most common symptom seen is low back pain. The patient may experience pain when the affected segment is touched or when extension is done at that region. Flexion can be a relieving factor.

2. Muscle tightness and instability:

The spine is the stability center of the body. When there is any malalignment of a segment, it causes problems in the related areas too. All the muscles in the region are connected with each other. When the lumbar spine is affected, along with the lumbar area it will also cause muscle tension and tightness in the buttock area and in one or both the legs. Hamstrings tightness is very common in this condition, resulting in trouble in walking or standing. Pain may usually increase with activity.

3. Altered sensations:

Due to excessive pressure exerted on the nerve fibers, there can be sensations altered in one or both legs resulting in numbness or tingling sensation.

4. Bowel or bladder incontinence:

In severe and rare cases, if the displacement is extreme and the nerves controlling bowel and bladder functioning are pinched, it may result in incontinence or even loss of control.

Sometimes, the symptoms are not as severe so the patients don’t take it seriously. But in both cases, professional consultation and evaluation must be done in order to avoid any damage in the future.

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What are the types of Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis can be a serious condition depending on its type and cause. The slipping of the vertebra on the other one can cause serious complications. The severity of the condition and the treatment plan can only be determined by the early diagnosis and by identifying the actual cause and type. In some cases, it can be treated without surgery but surgical intervention is required too in various cases.

Here in this article, India’s best neurosurgeon Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti has explained various types of Spondylolisthesis for a better understanding of the condition.

Spondylolisthesis can be classified into various types depending on its etiology described as follows:

1.Congenital Spondylolisthesis:

    Congenital refers to something that is present by birth. In this condition, the spine of the baby is premature i.e. not formed properly in the womb resulting in a misaligned and unstable spinal structure. This will lead to the slipping of the vertebra in the future.

    2.Degenerative Spondylolisthesis:

    Aging is the most common type of this. Degenerative causes occur with time, causing a decrease in the water content of the vertebral discs. This thinning leads to a higher chance of slipping of the vertebra.

    3.Isthmic Spondylolisthesis:

    Spondylosis is also a common cause of this. The stress fracture of pars interarticularis results in instability of the vertebra hence leading to slipping of it. The type of Spondylolisthesis caused by Spondylosis is called isthmic Spondylolisthesis. Its cause is not exactly known but may be due to excessive stress put on the spine during sports etc.

    4.Pathological Spondylolisthesis:

    It is caused by any pathological condition in the body such as a bone disease.

    5.Traumatic Spondylolisthesis:

    This is caused by any injury or trauma.

    6.Post-surgical Spondylolisthesis:

    During spinal surgery, the vertebra slips out resulting in post-surgical Spondylolisthesis.  

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    What is Spondylolisthesis?

    The word Spondylolisthesis originated from the Greek words spondylos meaning spine or vertebra and listhesis meaning slipping or movement. This slipping of the vertebra causes spinal instability. The vertebra moves out of its place more than it does normally. It causes low back pain that can be severe or moderate depending on the condition.

    An overview of Spondylolisthesis is explained in this article by India’s best spine surgeon Dr. Kalyan Bommakanti.

    Spondylolisthesis can be a very painful condition depending on the cause and the severity. A vertebra slips out of its place more than usual affecting mainly the one vertebra that is beneath it. Spondylolisthesis can be graded by Meyerding Classification which tells the degree of slippage of the vertebra. It can be caused by spondylosis or any degenerative condition. Adults and especially female and obese are found more prone to this. The facet joints grow posteriorly causing instability of the vertebra. This instability leads to the slipping of the vertebra over the underneath one. It occurs mostly in the lumbar spine.

    When the vertebra slips over the other vertebra, it puts pressure on it hence it also causes narrowing of the spinal canal. The pressure exerted on the spinal canal causes impingement of the nerves passing through it. This compression or pinching may lead to low back pain or leg pain. It can cause several symptoms such as low back pain, muscle stiffness, pain radiating to the legs, buttock pain, and hamstrings tightness which can lead to difficulty in walking. The symptoms may aggravate upon activity.

    As this condition is quite painful, it can be treated in therapeutic or surgical ways. Precautions and exercise can also help in acute cases. If it is not diagnosed and treated on time, it may cause some serious complications such as sensational loss or loss of bladder or bowel movement.

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