Spondylosis and Spondylolisthesis

What is Spondylosis and Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolysis is a fracture of the spine, which we most often see in high level athletes.  This may progress to spondylolisthesis, in which on vertebrae starts to slip forwards on the other, most commonly L5 slipping forwards on the sacrum.

Our goal is to try to identify this disorder as soon as possible, before more damage is done.  Conservative treatment is recommended first, including functional bracing and core strengthening.  Often, this is all that is required for complete healing.

In some advanced cases, persistent daily pain can be relieved by surgery.  The goal of surgery is to relieve pain, heal the fracture, prevent deformity, and perhaps most importantly return the child or young adult to full function.  Our patients include elite athletes from the US as well as internationally who have returned to their previous levels of sports.

Example of Spondylosis and Spondylolisthesis

  • Image A: Example of spondylolysis, or a fracture of the spine, shown by arrows.
  • Image B: Example of a spondylolysis that healed after using a brace, followed by a full return to painless activity.

Sample Case:  Elite Gymnast

  • Image C: Example of spondylolisthesis in an elite gymnast.  She was permitted to return to full gymnastics 6 months following surgery.
  • Image D: Patient won the California Championship following her spondylolisthesis surgery.