Symptoms may vary from mild to severe. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all.
Spondylolisthesis can lead to increased lordosis (also called swayback), and in later stages may result in kyphosis, or round back, as the upper spine falls off the lower.
Symptoms may include:
- Lower back pain
- Muscle tightness (tight hamstring muscle)
- Pain, numbness or tingling in the thighs and buttocks
- Tenderness in the area of the vertebra that is out of place
- Weakness in the legs
- Stiffness, causing changes in posture and gait
- A semi-kyphotic posture (leaning forward)
- A waddling gate in advanced cases
- Lower-back pain along the sciatic nerve
- Changes in bladder function
Spondylolisthesis may also produce a slipping sensation when moving into an upright position and pain when sitting and trying to stand.
Causes and Risk Factors
Spondylolisthesis may appear in children as the result of a birth defect or sudden injury, typically occurring between the fifth bone in the lower back (lumbar vertebra) and the first bone in the sacrum (pelvis).
In adults, spondylolisthesis is the result of abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones from conditions such as arthritis, trauma from an accident or injury, or the result of a fracture, tumor or bone abnormality.
Sports that place a great deal of stress on bones may cause additional deterioration, fractures and bone disease, which may cause the bones of the spine to become weak and shift out of place.