Spondylolisthesis is the forward or backward displacement of the vertebra, caused due to various factors. The disease can occur due to old age, birth defects or trauma. There are five types of spondylolisthesis: isthmic, degenerative, pathologic,traumatic, and dysplastic.
People with spondylolisthesis often suffer from a lot of pain in the lower-back and have trouble with their gait. However, there are several options for spondylolisthesis treatment, both surgical and non-surgical. Most medical practitioners try out the non surgical procedures first and only advise surgery if the former does not work.
The conservative treatment deals with reduction of pain and the symptoms of the disease, and its treatment.
Patients who suffer from intense pain can opt for injections. Anti-inflammatory medications such as lidocaine and steroids are used to reduce inflammation as well as pain in the affected area. Once the pain has been reduced, then the patient can gradually move on to other aspects of the therapy.
Rest is prescribed to help in reducing the symptoms and the pain. During the treatment period, lifting heavy weights, hard exercise, or athletics is not advised and the patient is required to reduce the pace of their life by reducing physical activities.
Physical therapy is used by doctors to help the patients gradually increase their range of movement, strengthen the muscles and alleviate stress on the back. Stretching exercises are recommended. Along with these exercises, it can also be helpful to reduce weight since that again will reduce the pressure on the lower back.
Packs are used to both promote healing and reduce pain. Cold packs are used to relieve pain and discomfort, and are a natural way to reduce inflammation. Hot packs are used for relaxing the muscles and increasing blood flow, which in turn leads to natural healing within the body.
While non-surgical treatment is preferred for spondylolisthesis in many cases, it does not actually correct the slippage in the vertebra. It merely provides a long-lasting pain relief for patients and enhances quality of life in general. If this is not achieved after six months of physical therapy and pain relief, then surgical procedures are considered.
The type of surgery largely depends on the kind of spondylolisthesis and the patient's exact condition. One of the main reasons that other methods don't work is because of pinched nerves. Surgery is the best way to release the pressure on the nerve and give it space.
Spinal fusion is a major surgery and is carried out to reduce the pressure on the spine. This can be either posterior fusion or anterior fusion. The former is the standard procedure, and is increasingly performed along with a disc fusion for higher stability.
Postoperative therapy is essential for patients who undergo surgery for spondylolisthesis treatment. The patient might be required to wear a back brace for a certain period after the surgery in order to keep the operated bone together and promote quicker healing. After this is taken off, the patient would require strengthening and stretching exercises, gradually allowing them to become more functional.