Degenerative Spondylolisthesis Treated by Mercy’s Top Spine Doctors

The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

Patients from across the Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic regions seek the expertise of the spine specialists at The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy Medical Center. Our doctors diagnose and treat various spine disorders, including spondylolisthesis, a fairly common condition that typically arises as the result of disc degeneration or juvenile stress fracture.

About the Condition

Spondylolisthesis means slippage of the spine. Discs in the spine tend to lose some of their water content and become dehydrated as they age. As this occurs, the disc height decreases resulting in mild loss of overall patient height. The narrowed disc bulges on the sides much like a partially flat tire. The aging disc is less firm allowing some shifting of the neighboring vertebra. 

The forward/backward shifting of the vertebra often irritates the spinal nerves and causes bone spurs and enlarged spinal ligaments. The combination of vertebral shifting, disc bulging, bone spurs and enlarged ligaments also can lead to a narrowed spinal canal or spinal stenosis.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Symptoms of degenerative spondylolisthesis include:

  • Back pain with discomfort or burning into the buttocks, thighs, legs and feet
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Forward hunched posture
  • Difficulty walking more than short distances

Spine specialists diagnose degenerative spondylolisthesis by using X-rays as well as CT scans or MRIs to whether or not any of the discs have shifted.

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

The body is able in most cases to maintain stability to the spinal column and prevent the vertebra from actively shifting back and forth on each other through the accumulation of bone spurs. If this is the case, then degenerative spondylolisthesis symptoms are best treated with:

  • Medications
  • Epidural steroid injection
  • Decompression surgery

For short lived symptoms, anti-inflammatory medications or an epidural injection are usually sufficient to relieve the symptoms. For lasting symptoms and those that do not respond to appropriate non-surgical treatment, a minimally invasive procedure to relieve the nerve pressure is often the best treatment option. Decompression surgery alone may not be possible if the slippage is in excess of 3 mm. In those specific cases, a decompression and fusion surgery would be necessary to maintain the stability of the spine after decompressing the nerves.