Spondylolisthesis Diagnosis and Treatments
You usually get a spondylolisthesis diagnosis from a spine doctor. In order to start your slipped disc treatment, the doctor will need to take you through a diagnostic workup to verify that this is the issue that is causing your pain. A diagnostic workup could include the following:
- Your medical history, including your current symptoms and treatments that you’ve tried in the past.
- A physical examination. The spine doctor will look for symptoms like muscle weakness, loss of sensation, or signs of trauma to the spinal cord.
- Diagnostic testing including x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. This gives the spine doctor a clearer view of your spinal column and allows them to diagnose any abnormalities that might be causing your pain. It can also show the doctor how severe your spondylolisthesis is and develop a treatment plan.
Treatment Options for Spondylolisthesis
Reducing or stopping any physical activity that might have caused the spondylolisthesis is the first step. This might be a sports-related injury or a repetitive work injury. Your spine doctor might also recommend that you lose weight if he or she suspects excess weight could be contributing to your condition. Other conservative treatment measures include:
- Pain medication including anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and sometimes narcotic painkillers.
- Using hot and cold compresses on the affected areas of your back for a few days.
- Stretching, massaging, and strengthening the back through physical therapy exercises.
- Epidural steroid injections which help your spine doctor locate the spinal nerve that’s causing your pain as well as providing you with temporary pain relief.
Least Invasive Procedures
If you try the conservative treatments listed above for six months and still aren’t getting relief from your symptoms, your spine doctor might recommend surgical intervention. It may also be recommended if your vertebrae continue to slip out of place or if any spinal nerves start to become compressed. If a surgical solution is recommended, an endoscopic foraminoplasty could be the best option.
- Endoscopic Foraminoplasty: If you are experiencing Grade I or II spondylolisthesis, this could be an effective procedure. The goal will be to decrease the pressure in the foramen, an opening around the exiting nerve, while maintaining the stability of the facet joint. That way, the patients shouldn’t require a spinal fusion. A ¼ inch incision is made to gain access to the spinal column, preserving the integrity of the muscles in the back. The spinal surgeon then uses an HD camera to get a view of your spinal cord. You’ll be given conscious sedation and kept comfortable throughout the surgery, lowering the recovery time and risks associated with general anesthesia.