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Spondylolisthesis - Topic Overview

How is spondylolisthesis diagnosed?

Your doctor will look at X-rays of your back if he or she suspects you have spondylolisthesis. X-rays will show if any of the vertebrae in your back have fractures or cracks and have slipped out of place. You could also have a CT scan or an MRI to pinpoint the damage and help guide treatment.

How is it treated?

Treatment for spondylolisthesis begins with stopping any physical activity that may have led to vertebrae damage. To help relieve pain, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen (such as Advil) or naproxen (such as Aleve). Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome, a serious illness. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can also help with pain.

Doctors often suggest physical therapy to build up stomach and back muscles (core strengthening). In overweight people, weight loss may also help.

When pain is extreme or bones continue to move, or if there is nerve root or spinal cord damage related to the spondylolisthesis, surgery can sometimes help. Surgery may be done to remove bone or other tissue to take pressure off the spinal cord or nerves (decompression). Or surgery may be done to fuse the bones in position. Sometimes both decompression and fusion are done during the same surgery. After any of these surgeries, you may need to wear a cast or back brace for a while. Later, rehabilitation therapy will help make your muscles stronger and movement easier.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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