Spondylolisthesis symptoms vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. They can range from mild to severe. It is possible that a person will not experience spondylolisthesis symptoms at all and only discover this condition in an X-ray due to an unrelated health issue.
Spondylolisthesis Symptoms Based on Grade
The slippage of the vertebra over the disc below is measured by a grade scale. This scale measures in grades from one to five. One is the least amount of slippage, while five is the greatest amount. The higher the grade level diagnosed, the more severe the symptoms will likely be.
For example, if you are diagnosed with a grade 1 slippage, then you may not even experience any discomfort. If you are diagnosed with a grade 2 or 3 slippage, you may experience minor discomfort. However, if you are diagnosed with a grade 4 or 5, you are more likely to be experiencing extreme and debilitating pain.
Common Spondylolisthesis Symptoms
Lower back pain is the most common symptom of spondylolisthesis. This pain is generally aggravated by activities that will put stress on your lower back or by activities that cause your back to hyperextend or bend backwards.
You could also experience the following common spondylolisthesis symptoms:
- Muscle tightness (especially the hamstring muscle)
- Discomfort or pain in the buttocks and thighs
- Tenderness where the disc has slipped
- Muscle spasms
Another common symptom that spondylolisthesis can cause is lordosis. This is an extreme inward curvature of a portion of the lumbar and cervical spine. Both the cervical and lumbar sections are normally curved to some extent; however, spondylolisthesis will cause an excessive curvature. If lordosis occurs, then you may also experience a protruding abdomen. It is also possible to experience kyphosis, which is a round back as the upper spines falls off the lower spine.
Nerve Damage Spondylolisthesis Symptoms
Nerve symptoms can result when the nerves that exit the spinal cord or the spinal cord itself becomes pinched by the slipped vertebra. The following symptoms can occur when the nerves are involved:
- Pain in the leg
- Electric shock-type symptoms shooting down the leg
- Legs and feet are numb or tingle
- Weakness in the muscles of the leg
Severe Spondylolisthesis Symptoms
If you experience problems with bowel or bladder function or any numbness around your genitals, you should contact your doctor immediately. These issues could be related to cauda equina syndrome.
Bladder problems can include:
- Urinary retention (inability to urinate)
- Urinary hesitancy (difficulty initiating urination)
- Decreased urethral sensation (decreased sensation when urinating)
- Incontinence (inability to stop or control urination)
Bowel problems can include:
- Incontinence (unable to stop or feel a bowel movement)
- Loss of anal sensation
Body Mobility Spondylolisthesis Symptoms
A more advanced stage of this spinal condition can affect your body’s mobility. It can result in causing you to walk in shorter strides with your knees slightly bent, also known as “waddling”. When you start to waddle rather than walk, you are rotating your pelvis more because of the decreased mobility in your hamstrings.
A general stiffening of your back and tightening of the hamstrings can result in a change to your posture. The changes in the discs of the spinal column can cause you to lean forward slightly resulting in a slump. If you are experiencing any spondylolisthesis symptoms, contact your doctor for the different treatment options available.