Lytic spondylolisthesis

We will help with your back and leg pain

A stress fracture in the spine can lead to slippage of one vertebra on the next, leading to the development of back and leg pain.

At Schoen Clinic, our spine specialists have many years of experience in the treatment of spine disorders. Together we will develop an individual treatment plan for you.

How does lytic spondylolisthesis develop?

Lytic spondylolisthesis is caused by a stress fracture (pars defect) of the narrow bridge of bone between the joints at the back of the spine.

There may be a hereditary aspect to this condition or certain sports, such as gymnastics, weight lifting, cricket, and football can put stress on the bones of the spine. Either can result in a stress fracture on one or both sides of the spine.

Lytic spondylolisthesis: Symptoms

Many people are not aware of their stress fracture or experience any problems for several years. However, over a period of time symptoms can occur including lower back pain and leg or sciatic pain in one or both legs.

Over time a slippage or spondylolisthesis can develop and cause back and leg pain. The degree of spondylolisthesis may vary from mild to severe. The nerves can be stretched where they branch out of the spinal canal which can cause pain, numbness, increased sensitivity or even weakness of the muscles, in the part of the leg the nerve supplies, known as sciatica.

How does lytic spondylolisthesis develop?

Lytic spondylolisthesis is caused by a stress fracture (pars defect) of the narrow bridge of bone between the joints at the back of the spine. There may be a hereditary aspect to this condition or certain sports, such as gymnastics, weight lifting, cricket, and football can put stress on the bones of the spine. Either can result in a stress fracture on one or both sides of the spine.

Diagnosing lytic spondylolisthesis

Diagnosing lytic spondylolisthesis requires experience. There are many symptoms that are linked to the spondylolisthesis and the nerve compression meaning the condition can often be overlooked. With thorough diagnostic tests, we can find the cause of your problems and initiate the appropriate treatment.

Every diagnosis at Schoen Clinic begins with extensive consultation and a thorough physical examination. After the assessment, we can confirm the diagnosis with imaging methods and precisely determine the level and extent of the spondylolisthesis and associated stenosis.

Lytic 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 spine in more detail and to assess the degree of slippage and nerve compression. 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.Sometimes it may be necessary to perform other tests such as a CT scan or neurophysiology testing.

Lytic spondylolisthesis: Management

Once we have diagnosed that you have a lytic spondylolisthesis we use various treatment methods, depending on the severity and nature of the symptoms. At Schoen Clinic, our consultants and therapists will develop an individual treatment plan for you.

Non-surgical treatments for lytic spondylolisthesis

If the symptoms are not severe then conservative measures such as physiotherapy can often help. The goal of our treatment programme is to relieve your pain significantly and improve your quality of life.

In some cases, spinal injections that can be performed as a day-case procedure may be appropriate and can relieve some of the acute pain and allow further rehabilitation.

Surgical treatment for lytic spondylolisthesis

For patients whose pain does not settle with conservative treatment, surgery may be necessary. The procedure will differ depending on the severity of the condition. For patients who do not have any slippage, surgery may involve directly repairing the stress fracture with a screw and bone graft.

Patients where slippage (spondylolisthesis) occurs resulting in nerve pain (sciatica), surgery needs to address sciatica as well as the instability of the spine. The nature of spinal surgery is aimed to provide benefit with a good percentage improvement and relief of symptoms. Good relief from back and leg symptoms following surgery usually occurs in the majority of cases after a period of rehabilitation.

Lytic spondylolisthesis surgery: Aftercare

It is very normal to experience some level of discomfort/pain after the surgery. Our experienced nursing and medical staff will help you to control this with appropriate medication. The symptoms in your legs may fluctuate due to increased swelling around the nerves. This can take a few weeks to settle. It is important not to suddenly stop taking certain pain relief medication. Our ward physiotherapist will visit you after the operation to teach you exercises and help you out of bed. They will show you the correct way to move safely. Once you are confident and independently mobile, you will be encouraged to keep as mobile as possible.

Lytic spondylolisthesis: Our spine specialists

Our spine specialists at Schoen Clinic are experts in all aspects of spinal conditions, including lytic spondylolisthesis. Working in collaboration with you, they find the right solution to resolve your condition and provide you with the best possible outcome.

Lytic spondylolisthesis: Our specialised hospital

Patients at Schoen Clinic we prioritise your care and from the very first visit to the final follow-up you are treated as a partner. Based in the heart of London, our specialist orthopaedic and spinal hospital is home to a multidisciplinary team of experts working together to provide you with the highest standard of care.