Do you know the difference between spondylolisthesis, a herniated disc, and a bulging disc? Odds are you probably don’t, and that’s okay. Not many individuals know the difference between these types of spinal disc injuries unless they have suffered from one themselves. In fact, just trying to remember the term, spondylolisthesis, can be a challenge. However, these injuries are exceptionally common and can cause tremendous amounts of pain. So, as you age, it might be time to brush up on some of the most common back injuries just in case you need to know what they are for your own personal health needs.

Discs in the Spine

Your spine is made up of repeating sections of bone and cartilage tissue, also known as discs. These discs are cushions between each vertebrae that provide support and flexibility for the spine. They are made of two different types of tissue. They have a thick outer layer, known as the annulus fibrosus, and a softer inner layer, called the nucleus pulposus.

A disc can suffer a variety of injuries due to age or impact. It can degenerate, or it can tear. A herniated disc is when the exterior tissue tears and allows the inner tissue to poke out. Similarly, a bulging disc is when the disc pushes out of its normal space and into the spinal cord, but no tear occurs. So what is spondylolisthesis?

“Ugg, I Think I Slipped a Disc”

If you’ve ever heard someone talk about having a slipped disc in their back, that would be the closest someone could get to a diagnosis of spondylolisthesis. With so many ligaments and other tissues holding a disc in place, they won’t move, however, the vertebrae can move. A slipped vertebrae is exactly what spondylolisthesis is. Due to weak muscles or ligaments, genetic malformations, or even trauma, a vertebrae can move out of alignment with the spine and put pressure on the spinal cord. This can cause excruciating amounts of pain, due to both the pressure put on the spinal cord and the inability for the spine to properly support your body weight.

What Can Be Done?

There are a variety of treatment options available in order to help address the pain from a slipped vertebrae. On the least invasive end of the spectrum, you can treat a slipped vertebrae with pain medications, ice or heat, and physical therapy. These options may work for some, especially in situations that involve minor movement. However, some cases require more aggressive treatment. Here at the Spine Institute of North America, we can perform minimally invasive spine surgery with an endoscopic foraminoplasty. This minimally invasive surgery helps to decompress the nerves that are most affected by the change of position of the vertebrae, while still maintaining the stability that is created by the facets.

At the Spine Institute of North America, located in New Jersey, you will be seen by doctors who specialize in minimally invasive spinal treatment techniques in order to help relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. Schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today in order to have your back pain addressed.