Degenerative changes in the spine can lead to slippage of one vertebra on the next, leading to the development of back and leg pain, numbness in the legs and reduced mobility.
At Schoen Clinic, our spine specialists will help you to relieve your pain significantly and improve your quality of life.
How degenerative spondylolisthesis develops?
Degenerative spondylolisthesis: symptoms of the disorder
Symptoms may include lower back pain and pain in the thighs and buttocks, stiffness, muscle tightness and discomfort in the area of the slippage.
When nerves are compressed they can produce symptoms of pain, numbness or tingling in the area of the leg that the particular spinal nerve supplies. In rare cases, they can produce severe pain and even weakness in the legs, such that the ‘legs do not work’. In most cases, the symptoms are experienced when standing or walking and are relieved by sitting or bending forward. In rare cases, the nerves which control your bladder, bowel and sexual function can be compressed. This is known as cauda equina syndrome (CES) and often requires urgent surgical intervention. Fortunately, immediate spinal surgery is only necessary in a few cases.
Causes of degenerative spondylolisthesis
Degenerative spondylolisthesis is the forward slippage of one lumbar vertebra on the vertebra below. The slippage occurs as a result of wear and tear in the joints at the back of the spine. The degree of spondylolisthesis may vary from mild to severe. The slippage of the vertebrae creates narrowing of the spinal canal/spinal stenosis. In lumbar spinal stenosis, the spinal nerve roots and/or cauda equina (spinal nerves) become compressed.
Diagnosing degenerative spondylolisthesis requires experience
There are many symptoms which are linked to the spondylolisthesis and the spinal canal stenosis meaning the condition can often be overlooked. With thorough diagnostic tests, we can find the cause of your symptoms and initiate the appropriate treatment.
Every diagnosis at Schoen Clinic London begins with an extensive consultation and a thorough physical examination. After assessment we can confirm the diagnosis with imaging methods and precisely determine the level and extent of the spondylolisthesis and associated stenosis.
Degenerative spondylolisthesis can be seen on an X-ray of the spine. Other tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are required to look at the nerves and the spine in more detail. In this procedure, we can optimally visualise the spinal canal and the neural structures such as the spinal cord and nerve roots that pass through it. On occasions we may have to perform other tests such as a CT scan or neurophysiology testing prior to intervention.