Spondylolisthesis (spawn-dee-lo-LISS-tha-sis) is a condition of the spine in which one of the vertebrae slips forward or backward. The condition can be caused by a congenital defect the patient is born with, an injury or trauma, arthritic changes in the joints of the vertebra, or a bone defect. 

This is different from a slipped disc, where one of the spinal discs in between the vertebrae has ruptured. 


  • Back pain that is worse when moving or carrying things
  • There may also be radiating pain in the leg that worsens with standing and is relieved with sitting.


To diagnose the source of back pain, we will take a medical history and conduct a medical exam. We may also use the following diagnostic tools:

  • Imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans or an MRI 


Treatment for spondylolisthesis depends on the location and severity of the injury. Typical treatments include:

  • Physical therapy targeted at the cause of pain, such as flexion-based exercise with emphasis on core strengthening
  • If there is also a stress fracture, bracing of the spine is necessary to allow the bones to heal.

Surgical Treatment

If non-surgical treatments do not help, or if the pain worsens, surgical treatments would be considered, such as:

  • Spinal fusion to prevent motion at the segment of the spine that is affected

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