The term spondylolisthesis means a slipped vertebral body. The most common cause of this condition is age-related degeneration and wear and tear. In most cases, such a condition can be managed non-surgically. In fact, surgery is only considered if the patient has not reported any significant improvement even after having gone through six months of proper non-surgical therapy.
The non-surgical approach is based on targeted exercises that will help reverse the clinical symptoms. Aqua based exercises have shown a lot of promise in relieving the pain associated with this condition. Wearing a brace for a short term may also help prevent the need for major surgery.
Aim Of Surgical Treatment
Surgical treatment aims at decompressing the nerves and stabilizing the spine to prevent a recurrence of the condition. In a lot of the cases, the amount of mobility at the level of the slip is much that a fusion surgery will have to be considered.
A fusion surgery is done most commonly at the L5-S1 since the incidence of spondylolisthesis is highest here. Interestingly, since this segment lies pretty deep in the pelvis and is not really designed for a lot of motion, patients do not really feel too much of limitation to their movement once the procedure has been performed.
Your doctor is likely to order a few x-rays, MRIs and maybe even a discogram. Your doctor will also make sure that you are fit for surgery through the help of a detailed clinical history and routine blood tests.
There are a number of different techniques of surgery that can be performed. This decision will be made by your surgeon after taking into consideration the details of your condition.
The patient is usually kept in the hospital for a minimum of one to five days after the completion of the procedure. The doctors encourage the patient to move about after the procedure (under supervision) since this has found to actually help the healing of the spine.
The decision to make the patient ambulatory also varies from surgeon to surgeon and according to the details of the procedure performed. In most of the cases, patients will not need a back brace once the procedure has been performed.
The patient will be asked to perform strengthening exercises once the initial period of healing has been completed. The regularity with which these exercises are performed will determine as to how effective the procedure is. The doctor will also call you in for regular checkups and to see how well the fusion has taken up.
Once the fusion is set (around 6-12 months after the procedure), using it will only strengthen it further. The bone tissue responds to the physical stimulus by active formation, thus making the fusion stronger.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition that is commonly treated by surgical means, however only after all other treatment modes have been exhausted. The procedure is carried out with a high level of success, however, it is a major procedure and should not be taken lightly.
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