Spondylolisthesis, when a vertebra slides forward over the adjacent bone causing back and leg pain, is often treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. If, however, the pain is directly related to nerve root or spinal cord damage, surgery is often recommended to correct the damage and provide relief.
Spinal Fusion or Disc Replacement
Surgery for spondylolisthesis involves the replacement of the damaged vertebra or bone. Since removing a disc, or any part of the spinal structure, can compromise posture and stability, it’s necessary to replace the disc that was removed or perform a spinal fusion to keep the spine stable. Screws, rods and cages are typically used to support the spine as the fusion heals. Synthetic discs are sometimes inserted, also known as artificial disc replacement, as an alternative to traditional fusion surgery.
Types of Surgery for Spondylolisthesis
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is fusion surgery to correct spondylolisthesis that is performed from the front. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is when the spine is approached from the back. Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is when the spine is approached from the side. The purpose of any of these surgical approaches is to:
- Relieve pressure on spinal nerves
- Stabilize the spine
- Correct spinal alignment
What You Need to Know
Realize that there are risks associated with surgery, which is why it is only considered if non-surgical treatments fail to provide relief. While recovery time varies, you will only be discharged from the hospital once you are able to walk on your own and remain stable. You may also be prescribed medications to deal with any post-surgery pain or discomfort.
Recent developments in surgery for spondylolisthesis involve minimally invasive surgical techniques designed to lessen recovery time and reduce the risk of complications. You’ll benefit from a smaller incision and shorter hospital stay since muscles, ligaments, and tendons won’t have to be disturbed during the surgery.
Are You a Candidate for Surgery?
If you have spondylolisthesis and are interested in finding out if you are a candidate for surgery, request more information or an in-person consultation at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Simply call (310) 828-7757 and we would be happy to assist you.