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27 April 2009

What is Spondylolisthesis ?


Spondylolisthesis is the slipping forward of one vertebra, in relation to the vertebra beneath it. This slippage usually happens in the low back at the L5-S1 level.

Who Gets Spondylolisthesis:

Children involved in sports such as gymnastics and diving have a high incidence of spondylolisthesis. These and other sports put a lot of stress on the back, especially the movement of hyperextension (bending backwards). Spondylolisthesis also occurs in adults after the age of 40, due to degeneration.

Causes of Spondylolisthesis:

Spondylolysis is the most common cause of spondylolisthesis. Genetics may also be a factor. Sometimes children are born with weakened facet joints, predisposing them to spondylolisthesis. Infections and degeneration may also be causes of the condition. One of the biggest contributors to spondylolisthesis is the repititive hyperextension of the spine that comes with such sports as gymnastics, diving, weightlifting and football.

Grades of Spondylolisthesis:

Spondylolisthesis is measured in grades (degrees) of slippage.There are 4 grades., each representing 25% slippage. So, for example, if a patient is measured to have a Grade 2 Spondylolisthesis, this means that the 2 adjacent vertebra maintain a 50% contact with one another. Grades are measured by taking a side view X-Ray. Other diagnostic methods, such as CT scans or MRIs might be used to determine the damage to surrounding tissues.

  1. Grade 1: 25% slippage
  2. Grade 2: 50% slippage.
  3. Grade 3: 75% slippage.
  4. Grade 4: 100% slippage.

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