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Spondylolisthesis Surgery Can Address the Pain Associated With Vertebral Slippage

Spondylolisthesis surgery is sometimes recommended for patients who experience severe pain after a vertebral bone slips out of its proper position and onto the adjacent lower vertebra. This can occur as a result of osteoarthritis or other forms of spinal degeneration that can be exacerbated by excess wear and tear on the spine. For example, certain athletic activities, such as football, gymnastics and weightlifting, can place a great deal of stress on the bones in the lower back, leading to stress fractures. A stress fracture can cause a spinal bone to weaken and shift out of place.

Spondylolisthesis surgery is usually recommended only as a last resort. The best course of treatment will depend on the degree of vertebral slippage, whether a nerve root is impinged, and the patient’s age and health. Some patients experience no symptoms at all and most find that their discomfort lessens considerably with targeted stretching and exercises designed to strengthen the lower back muscles. Nevertheless, while conservative approaches like rest, medication and physical therapy are often very effective for treating spondylolisthesis, surgery may become necessary if the pain worsens, reduces mobility or interferes with daily activities.

Surgical intervention to treat spondylolisthesis

When recommended, the main objectives of spondylolisthesis surgery are to stabilize the spine, relieve the pain caused by an irritated nerve root, and increase the patient’s ability to function. Traditional open spine procedures that are often utilized to treat spondylolisthesis include:

  • Decompressive laminectomy — Entails the removal of part of the bone that is exerting pressure on the affected nerve root or spinal cord. Although this procedure can reduce pain, removing a significant portion of the spinal anatomy can sometimes lead to spinal instability.
  • Traditional open back spinal fusion — Involves the transplant of a piece of bone to the back of the spine. As the bone heals, it fuses with the spine to create a solid mass of bone that keeps the spine stable by restricting its range of motion.

While these types of traditional, open spine spondylolisthesis surgery can be effective, they each have some drawbacks. First, the procedures must be performed in a hospital and require stays of two to five days. Second, each type of traditional spondylolisthesis surgery requires a large incision that can increase the likelihood of damage to surrounding musculature. Finally, the associated postoperative rehabilitation and recovery times can be lengthy.

Minimally invasive alternatives

There are minimally invasive alternatives to traditional spondylolisthesis surgery. At Laser Spine Institute, our experienced and talented surgeons perform outpatient procedures using small incisions to treat a wide range of conditions affecting the neck and back. Our innovative alternatives result in less pain and quicker recovery times^ as compared to open neck and back surgery.

If you would like more information about minimally invasive alternatives to spondylolisthesis surgery, please contact Laser Spine Institute today.


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