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Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebrae slips forward out of alignment, usually in the lumbar spine. It is one of the most common causes of persistent back pain in children and adolescents.

Causes and Risk Factors

Spondylolisthesis is most commonly caused in adults by osteoarthritis. In children, it is usually due to a genetic condition or overuse. Individuals that participate in sports such as gymnastics, weight lifting, and football are at higher risk due to the stress on the spine and repeated hyperextension required.


The symptoms of spondylolisthesis vary greatly and it may or may not cause back pain. If pain is present, it may only be during certain activities or positions. It may also include muscle tightness, stiffness, tenderness, and pain in the thighs and buttocks. If the disk slips too far forward, the bones may begin to press on nerves and cause pain that radiates, numbness, and weakness in the leg or arm.


Treatment for spondylolisthesis usually begins with a back brace, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. If conservative options fail to provide relief of symptoms or the vertebrae slips further, your neurosurgeon may recommend spinal fusion surgery to stabilize the spine.