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What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal disorder in which one or more vertebrae become displaced toward the front of the body, usually in the lumbar spine (lower back), commonly following a fracture. Any movement or activity that causes pressure on the vertebrae can cause its onset, such as improper bending or lifting, gymnastics, or high-impact sports.

Types of spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is generally classified in five different types:

  • Isthmic—Low-grade, from a slip or fracture
  • Degenerative—Resulting from arthritis or joint remodeling
  • Traumatic—Rare, from acute fracture
  • Pathologic—Damage resulting from disease or tumor
  • Dysplastic—Rare, from congenital malformation

Treatment options

Treatment for spondylolisthesis can be either surgical or noninvasive. A combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy can often help manage pain or swelling.

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