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What is Isthmic Spondylolisthesis

According to the Colorado Spine Institute, Isthmic Spondylolisthesis is condition  where on of the vertebra of the spine slips forward over another vertebra. It’s usually due to a fracture of the bone which connects lower and upper facet joints The fracture may be due to a degenerative condition. It can also be due to genetics. It usually occurs between the L5 lumbar vertebra and the first sacral joint


Common symptoms include sciatica, lower back pain, weakness in the legs, a feeling of tightness in the hamstrings. Patients may even have a limp. Muscle spasms may appear.


Some of the activities that can cause isthmic Spondylolisthesis include “heavy lifting, stooping over, or twisting.” Athletes may develop this disorder.How is the disorder diagnosed?As with most disorders, the physician will conduct an oral examination which reviews your symptoms, how deep the pain is, and whether you’ve tried any remedies.A physical exam. The doctor will check to see your range of movements, which movements cause pain, how good or bad your reflexes are, if your muscles are weak, and for any signs of nerve damage

Diagnostic tests

The standard test is an X-ray. Isthmic spondylolisthesis usually should show up on an X-ray. A CT scan or MRI may also be ordered.


The disorder is classified differently depending on how sever the slippage is.  Partial slips are graded I-IV. A complete slip gets a grade V. Treatments will vary depending on what grade is assigned.

Nonsurgical treatments

Nonsurgical treatments include bed rest, anti-inflammatory medicine, over-the-counter pain medicine, steroid injections, and physical therapy. The disorder can get worse without treatment.

Surgical treatment

Possible treatments include surgery which uses rods and screws (called spinal instrumentation) and bone grafts. Skilled physicians will explain the options in more detail.


The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only. This blog does not create a doctor/patient relationship.

Contact Us

If you have any pain problems or questions,  please call our office in Langhorne, Bucks County, PA at 215.741.7031.Our pain management doctors help patients in Bristol, Langhorne, Levittown, Newtown, Richboro, Doylestown, Philadelphia and many other places in or near Bucks County, Mercer County, and Montgomery County. We can be reached at 215.741.7031

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