Lumbar Spondylolisthesis Overview  

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebrae slips forward in relation to adjacent vertebrae. Many of our patients in Dallas, Irving, Red Oak, Plano, Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville, Duncanville and throughout the DFW metroplex with this condition can cause back pain, leg pain, buttocks pain and other associated symptoms.

What is Spondylolisthesis?

The term “spondylolisthesis” is formed from 2 Greek words: “spondylo,” which means vertebra, and “olisthesis,” which means to slide on an incline. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is most common in the lumbar spine (L4-L5).


Typical symptoms include low back pain, muscle spasms, thigh or leg pain, and weakness. Interestingly, some patients do not have symptoms and may learn that they have the spine condition after spinal radiographs.

Low back pain associated with spondylolisthesis is typically treated using non-surgical treatments. During the acute pain phase, bed rest may be recommended for a few days. Activities involving heavy lifting are prohibited to prevent stress to the lumbar spine.

In addition to back pain, patients may complain of leg pain. The leg pain is usually due to associated narrowing of the area where the nerves leave the spinal canal that produces irritation and inflammation of a nerve root of the collection of nerves in the lumbar spine, the cauda equina.


Spondylolisthesis can be diagnosed using various tests, such as an x-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  The diagnosis of spondylolisthesis is confirmed by noting the forward position of one vertebral body on another.

spondylolisthesis lumbar

In this x-ray taken from the side, vertebrae in the low back have slipped out of place due to DS.


For most patients without signs of significant nerve compression or neurological impairment, the first line of treatment consists of non-surgical therapies such as medication, rest and physical therapy.  Bracing is also a consideration, along with epidural steroid injections.

Spine surgery is usually considered only after conservative therapies have failed to adequately relieve symptoms.

Surgical procedures that may be considered for treatment of Spondylolisthesis include:

  • Spinal decompression or laminectomy in which bone along with offending ligamentum flavum is removed to relieve compression on the nerves.
  • Spinal fusion, which is a procedure in which bone graft along with instrumentation is placed between vertebrae to fuse together.

If you have any questions about treatment options available to you please contact any of our office locations conveniently located to Dallas, Irving, Red Oak, Plano, Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville and Duncanville.

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