Spondylolisthesis can lead to numbness

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis: what is it?

A Spondylolysis is a pathological gap (crack, break) that forms on a narrowing of the bony vertebral arch. This area of ​​the vertebral arch is called the interarticular portion (Latin: pars interarticularis). At this weak point there is often a predisposition (predisposition) to crack formation from birth, which then develops later during growth or afterwards. Trauma or excessive strain caused by certain sports can increase the risk of spondylolysis. Spondylolysis usually occurs in the fifth lumbar vertebra, rarely in the fourth vertebra.

If both sides of the vertebral arch break, the front part of the vertebra, the vertebral body, becomes unstable and can slip. At a Spondylolisthesis a vertebral body shifts from its normal position towards the vertebra below it forwards (ventral) towards the abdomen.

How does spondylolysis arise?

In most cases, frequent overuse of the vertebrae and a congenital predisposition are the cause of spondylolysis. Sometimes a tear or break (fracture) in the vertebral arch can also result from an acute injury.

The risk of spondylolysis is increased in sports that often involve stress and overstretching of the spine. These sports include, for example, judo, gymnastics, weightlifting, artistic gymnastics and javelin throwing. In children and adolescents, the risk of a fatigue fracture in the growth phase is increased.

How is a spondylolisthesis created?

Bilateral spondylolysis is a common cause of spondylolisthesis. Young athletes are often affected. After the growth phase, the zone of sliding vertebrae usually becomes stable and the symptoms can subside.

Wear and tear or degenerative changes, e.g. of the intervertebral discs or the vertebral arch joints, can lead to instability and displacement of a vertebra. Intervertebral discs become thinner over time as a result of natural aging and lose fluid and pressure. In addition, excessive stress can wear out the intervertebral discs, as well as the vertebral joints and their ligaments. This can loosen the connection between the vertebrae. The risk of degenerative spondylolisthesis increases around the age of 50.

Spondylarthrosis Spondylarthrosis together with an intervertebral disc damage is often the cause of a degenerative spondylolosthesis. This can lead to ossification, which subsequently narrow the spinal canal (spinal canal stenosis) and cause irritation or damage to the spinal nerves running there (radiculopathy).