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Definition

The spine is made of several bones called vertebra. They are lined up so the spinal cord can run through the center of the bones. Spondylolisthesis is when one of the vertebrae (usually in the lower back area) slips out of place. It moves forward compared to the vertebra below and develops slowly over time.

Spondylolisthesis
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Causes

Spondylolisthesis is most often caused by a stress fracture. The fracture can make the vertebra unstable and allow it to slip forward. This type of fracture often occurs when a lot of stress and pressure is put on the back. This can occur with certain sports activities.

The condition can also be caused by spinal problems that are present at birth, like spina bifida .

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of spondylolisthesis include:

  • Rapid growth
  • Being an athlete, especially gymnasts, weight-lifters, and football players
  • Family history

Symptoms

Spondylolisthesis begins to progress at age 10-15 years. Symptoms may not appear until adulthood. In many cases of spondylolisthesis, there are no obvious symptoms. Symptoms that may be present include:

  • Low back pain, which may feel like muscle strain
  • Stiff back
  • Muscle spasms of the hamstring