Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which damage to the bones or joints in the spine causes a vertebra to slip forward. This, in turn, may cause a nerve root to be pinched or irritated, radiating pain to the legs and feet. Causes of spondylolisthesis vary based on age, lifestyle and heredity. Children may suffer from the condition as a result of injury (especially in sports like football, gymnastics, wrestling, weightlifting and track and field), and rapid growth during adolescence may also be a contributing factor. If this condition is present in the family medical history, any age is at risk.
There are two types of spondylolisthesis:
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs when vertebral bones fracture, allowing a vertebra to slip forward. This condition typically occurs in the lower regions of the lumbar spine.
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis occurs when the facet joints weaken, often due to osteoarthritis, allowing a vertebra to slip forward. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is most common in people over the age of 65 and is three times more likely to affect a woman than a man.