What Is SPONDYLOLISTHESIS?

Hey, it’s Doctor DeCubellis here. I get this question a lot and I wanted to go over this because I don’t think most people understand not only what it is he is, but how it forms. And what I want to talk about today is, what is a SPONDYLOLISTHESIS?  A spondylolisthesis, if we imagine is when we take one vertebra and we move it out of place, either anterior or forward or posterior or backward.

When we look at the vertebra of the spine, they should be lined up nice and even an equal distance over each other, even though there’s a curve. Now, let me show you what that looks like with this model here. This is a model of the low back, when we look at this even though there’s a curve, all of the vertebrae are aligned equally up in front of each other.

Now it happens with a spondylosis is one of these vertebra moves forward or back. And the problem with that is this is where your spinal cord and all the nerves are. So when that bone actually moves in or back, remember this part of the bone is connected to it so it moves with it. So now we’re putting pressure on that spinal cord and we’re putting pressure on all those nerves in that area.

Now this shouldn’t be able to be happening, right? Your body is very, very much trying to keep you away from having these issues. So the only way spondylosis happen is that we have ligaments that run down the front and the back inside the spinal canal here that prevent these types of abnormal movements.

If you have a spondylosis, it means that the ligaments have been overstretched, strained, injured, or damaged at some point. Now it’s like a loose rubber band and it does not offer any more support. So the bones are now moving like this when you’re moving, putting more pressure on the spinal cord. Now we have this instability. It’s just like when you play Jenga, you take that piece out from the bottom, we create instability everywhere above and everything can start tumbling down. So we start getting injuries elsewhere. We start getting muscles that have to try to compensate and protect, try to get you to move which you need to do, all because of that. So that’s why spondylosis are so important to not only see if they’re present, but also to grade and see what level you have, to make sure they get corrected. Otherwise, they lead to long-term issues like osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, all those different things, bone spurs, permanency when things fuse together. That’s what we don’t want. So that’s what spondylosis is, when the bone moves either forward or backward compared to the one above or below it. We need to make sure that not only does the bone move back into place like it should, but you have to get the ligaments to strengthen up again. Otherwise, this will just keep coming back.

I hope that kind of makes a little bit more clarification on what a spondylolisthesis is, but any questions you can always reach out to me as well.