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Spondylolisthesis is a displacement of one of the bones of the spine. When the displaced vertebra slips out of its normal location onto the bone beneath it, it may compress a spinal nerve, causing pain. This condition most commonly occurs in the lumbar (lower) region of the back and may occur for a variety of reasons. Spondylolisthesis is graded by radiologists according to the amount of slippage that has occurred, Grade I being the mildest displacement and Grade IV the most serious.


Symptoms Of Spondylolisthesis

The severity of spondylolisthesis symptoms is quite variable. Patients with spondylolisthesis may be completely asymptomatic or may experience symptoms ranging from mild to extremely serious. These symptoms may include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Upper leg pain
  • Leg weakness
  • Pain in the buttocks
  • Tight hamstring muscles
  • Extreme tenderness at the slippage site
  • Stiffness, numbness or tingling in the region

Untreated, spondylolisthesis can lead to extreme postural difficulties, including lordosis (swayback) or kyphosis (hunchback). In extreme cases, these postural abnormalities, in turn, can result in diminished lung capacity or neurological problems.

Diagnosis Of Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is diagnosed through evaluation of a medical history, a thorough physical examination, and detailed X-rays of the spine. When the patient has pain when raising a straightened leg, this may be indicative of the disorder. Spinal X-rays will help the physician to detect fractures or misalignment of vertebrae.


Kellogg Brain and Spine
9200 SE 91st Avenue, Suite 340
Portland, OR 97086
Phone: 503-256-1462
Fax: 503-257-9523

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