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Isthmic spondylolisthesis is one of the six common types of this spinal condition. This particular type is present in a child (approximately 5 to 7 years of age); however, the symptoms do not typically develop until adulthood.

Isthmic Spondylolisthesis Definition

This condition occurs in the pars interarticularis part of your spine, which is a narrow area (isthmus) between the upper and lower articular processes. Isthmic spondylolisthesis is caused by healed or unhealed stress fractures that are surrounded by fibrous tissues. It occurs when the vertebra slips forward over the lower vertebra over a period of time.

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What is spondylolisthesis? What causes it and how can you prevent or treat this spinal condition? If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with this spinal medical issue, then these are questions that you have likely asked.

On this site, you will find in depth answers to these questions. You will be introduced to the different types, causes, symptoms, and treatments for spondylolisthesis. Learn different exercises you can do to reduce pain and further damage to your spine. You will also be given specific tips to help prevent this condition.

You will also want to look at Open-i spondylolisthesis images and informationas we found this a great resource for research.

spondylolisthesis lateral radiographs

Lateral radiographs in two different patients with PD showing two different mechanisms of spondylolisthesis:

Spondylolisthesis Defined

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition where one vertebra slips forward over the lower vertebrae. This is only a general description of this medical condition. On this site, you will learn in depth information regarding the definition of spondylolisthesis.

It can be defined by severity and type. A grade scale is used to determine the severity of the condition. There are six different types that you can experience. This site will not only give you brief descriptions of these types, but it will also discuss the most common types in detail.

Lumbar Anatomy

While spondylolisthesis can be found in the cervical section of your spine, it is most commonly found in the lumbar section. Therefore, understanding the lumbar anatomy will help you to better understand this spinal medical issue.

Lumbar Section

The lumbar section of your spine is in the lower back. It is made up of the lower five vertebrae. These are generally referred to as L1 to L5. They line up to give your lower back a slight inward curve. The L5 (lowest vertebra of the lumbar spine) connects to the top of your sacrum, which is a triangular bone at the base of the spine. The sacrum fits between the two pelvic bones.

Nerves

The bones of the spinal column protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord extends just to L2. Below this level, the spinal canal encloses a bundle of nerves that goes into the lower limbs and pelvic organs. This bundle of nerves is called the cauda equina. When these nerves are pinched due to a slipped vertebra, you will experience symptoms.

Pars Articularis

Your spinal canal’s bony ring is formed from two sets of bones called the pedicle bones and the lamina bones. The place where the two sets meet is called the pars interarticularis. There are actually two spots where these two meet. One is on the left, and one is on the right.

The pars interarticularis is one of the weakest parts of the bony ring. The pars interarticularis is a common area where isthmic spondylolisthesis can be present, which is one of the most common types you will learn about on this site.

Ligaments and Muscles

Ligaments and muscles support the lumbar spine. Ligaments connect the bones together and are arranged in layers. They run in many different directions. Bones are connected to the sacrum (the bone that is below L5) and pelvis with thick ligaments.

Facet Joints

Each spinal segment has two facet joints that are located on the back of the spinal column. A facet joint is made up of small, bony knobs that line up along the back of your spine. A joint is formed where the knobs meet that connect two vertebrae.

When these facet joints are aligned, the lumbar spine is able to move as you bend forward and back. Facet joints are known to be a factor in degenerative spondylolisthesis, which is described in more detail on this site.

Symptoms

The symptoms for this condition vary depending on the type and grade. There are symptoms that are common with each type and grade. However, there are symptoms that are only associated with the higher grades, as well as specific types. Severe symptoms must be addressed immediately by a doctor.

On this site, you will learn the most common symptoms, as well as the most severe symptoms. You will also learn those symptoms that can affect your body’s mobility, as well as those symptoms that are related to nerve damage.

Causes

The causes for this spinal condition depend on the type that is diagnosed. The causes for degenerative spondylolisthesis are not the same as the causes for isthmic. Degenerative is caused mainly from the aging process. Isthmic is generally caused from factors from childhood. On this site, you will learn more detailed information as to the causes for these two commonly diagnosed types.

Treatments

The absolute best treatment is prevention. Even if you have already been diagnosed, prevention can possibly help to stop a second occurrence. Treatment will begin with a non-surgical rehabilitation program.

After diagnosis, your doctor will give you a few options to try, such as rest and medication. You may also be sent to a physical therapist that will work with you to determine the best exercises that will help with recovery and not create further damage to your spine. On this site, you will learn the different non-surgical options available to you.

Surgery is also an option. It will only be considered as a last resort. Learn the different types of surgery available. Understanding the options you have is very important. Doctors tend to have a different opinion on which type is best for their patients. You need to be familiar with the options possible in order to make an informed decision on what your doctor is proposing.

This site will provide information on open back, minimally invasive, and open-mini operations. If your doctor proposes an open back surgery, then you will want to find out why a minimally invasive procedure will not work.

Get a second or even third opinion before allowing an open back procedure. Sometimes this is the best route for you; however, understanding your options is important in preventing unnecessary pain and a longer recovery period.

Exercises

Stretching can strengthen your core abdomen muscles, as well as help restore flexibility of your back and hamstrings. Before you try any new exercise, contact your doctor. Knowing your limitations is crucial. Pushing yourself beyond these limitations can cause even more damage and severe pain.

While the stretches on this site are designed for people with spondylolisthesis, not everyone is in a position to perform them. There are some types of exercises you should always avoid if you are suffering from spondylolisthesis. The following are ones to avoid:

  • Sports – weightlifting, football, gymnastics
  • Low-back straining core exercise – stay away from sit-up type exercises
  • Leisure sports that require twisting – snowmobiling, sledding, tobogganing, trampoline, etc

This site has been designed as a general source for spondylolisthesis. It is critical that you speak with your doctor if you suspect you are suffering from this condition for an accurate diagnosis and for information specific to your grade and type of spondylolisthesis.