What is Spondylolisthesis?

In this condition, damage to bones or joints causes vertebrae to slip forward and distort the spinal cord. This animation will show two types of spondylolisthesis, degenerative and isthmic.

What causes spondylolisthesis?

There are many causes for spondylolisthesis. Most common occurs when a vertebra is injured by trauma or stress fracture, but sometimes it could be defective from birth. Most often, this disorder occurs in children and adolescents who are active in athletics, such as gymnastics.

What are the symptoms?

  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle tightness and stiffness
  • Pain in the buttocks
  • Pain radiating down the legs (due to pressure on nerve roots)


Spondylolisthesis is treated with the strengthening of supportive abdominal and back muscles through physical therapy. For patients who continue to have severe pain and disability after physical therapy, there is the option of surgical fusion of the vertebra to the one below.