Patient Comments: Spondylolisthesis - Causes


What was the cause of your spondylolisthesis? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Liz, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 03

My neurosurgeon says I was born with spondylolisthesis. I did have very fast growing spurts and often fell down stairs growing up. I had to quit all sports and wear a metal brace in grade school. A famous chiropractor adjusted me once and I had no pain for 40 years. However, at 65 my misery has returned... pain in my legs, feet and now in my hips and thighs. Standing or walking too long, sleeping and getting out of a chair are miserable. Spondylolisthesis grade 3 has caused scoliosis 41 percent curve.

Comment from: ceriley, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 06

I was born with spondylolisthesis.

Comment from: Cruise86, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 04

I am not one hundred percent sure, but I believe that the cause of my lower back injury is due to an IED (improvised explosive device) explosion that I was involved in during my time in Iraq. I was not thrown from the vehicle (the vehicle did sustain quite a bit of damage) and received no visible injuries. What my concern is, is that the force of the blast may have caused, or worsened the injury. I have spondylolisthesis with the L-5 moving forward over the S-1. I am looking for any information about whether a large explosion, concussion blast from a 122 mm artillery round, could actually cause this type of injury. It would be greatly helpful with my case against the VA (Veterans Affairs).

Comment from: HollyPiedra, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 02

I am 39 years old, a Navy veteran, wife, and mother of 2 small children. I have grade 4 spondylolisthesis and anterolisthesis of my L5 S1. I am in an extreme amount of pain every day, all day. I can't stand for more than a couple of minutes, but I still push myself to try for longer. I can't walk for more than 50 feet, but again, I push myself as much as I can. I am a stay at home mom and doing daily chores is daunting to say the least. I am only allowed to exercise my arms by sitting down. Any other full body exercise runs a very high risk of paralyzing me from the waist down. My doctors can't figure out how I am still able to walk with the severity of my injury. I know it's horrible, but reading the other stories of how people have the same issues I do gives me some sort of relief. Mentally at least. I'm not alone. Hugs and wishes to all who have this horrible issue. I wish you all the best and hope for some relief of your pain.

Comment from: JDerek, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 14

I joined the Army at the end of 1996 at the age of 24. On my 12th jump in 1998 I had a one in a million malfunction. After being taken to the hospital and all the x-rays they told me I had broken the facet on my L-5 vertebra and had subsequently acquired spondylolisthesis. They gave me some Airborne candy and sent me back to work. Six months, 3 more airborne operations and a 20K later I couldn't stand up straight. More x-rays and I was told I had broken the other facet on the tight and my airborne days and career were over. It took them 2 years to get through the process of medically discharging me during which time I was evaluated by an orthopedist. I was informed that I ran a high risk of being paralyzed from the waist down because both facets had been totally obliterated and there was nothing holding my spine to my pelvis. After the surgery, I pushed my physiotherapy and myself in an attempt to meet the minimum standards that would allow me to remain on active duty. It worked until 2007. During my second deployment the daily pain that I dealt with was getting to the point of being unmanageable without stronger medication which would impair my ability to do my job. At which point I was medically discharged. The pain hasn't gone away. It's a constant reminder. By the time I had the fusion done I had contracted lumbar spinal stenosis as an MRI revealed in 2009. The disk between my L-5 and S-1 wasn't removed before the fusion and sits dangerously close to my spinal column. This causes all sorts of weird sensations in my lower extremities not to mention loss of strength. Add in the added instability of my mid and upper back and I have interesting issues going both ways.

Comment from: Is there hope, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 27

I had neck surgery on 2-24-2017 and have to be very careful now. I push-mow my yard just to try and stay healthy physically and mentally. My wrists are deteriorating and ankles might have some torn up tendons. My foot and ankle have been swollen black and blue for a month. I finally found a specialist he's considering taking me as a new patient; I hope so. These bone spurs are extremely painful.

Comment from: Bluesky, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 21

I have no clue what caused my spondylolisthesis. I have taken a large number of hard falls over the years, but again it could be age. Originally 12 years ago I had surgery for spinal stenosis. I was 57 and that was terrible enough. Now the symptoms have returned and my neurosurgeon is calling it spondylolisthesis and promising fusion with nuts and bolts. I was getting no relief from corticosteroid injections so in desperation I turned to acupuncture. It worked like a charm. I go one day a week and except for early morning wake up pain and balance issues, I do well. Meanwhile, I'm also looking into stem cell treatment which is done all over the United States. I will avoid surgery and fusion at all costs. I suggest finding a good acupuncturist. I'm also being needled for depression, psoriasis, memory, concentration and balance. There seems to be nothing that acupuncture can't do.


Lower Back Pain: Symptoms, Stretches, Exercise for Pain Relief See Slideshow
Comment from: Jerrie L Roy, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

I have been diagnosed with degenerative arthritis. I had a wreck in February, turned my truck over two times, and landed face down under the pedals. Medic came with neck brace and I went to the hospital. I had CAT scan and went home. I had two discs replaced in my neck because of spondylolisthesis. Several years ago I had MRI and had 3 bone spurs taken out and metal ball put in my left shoulder. I have been having trouble standing for very long at a time; have to sit down. Just three days ago getting worse.

Comment from: DOUG, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: June 12

When I was 19 (1979) I was in the best shape of my life, a brown belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, when a body-builder got me involved in weight lifting. On day I arched as I bench pressed 225 lb. when I felt something happen to my lower back. When I went to get up off the bench I fell to the ground with a numb left leg. I was diagnosed with a grade II L5 -S1 spondylolisthesis. I have suffered severe nerve pain ever since and can't stand the pain medications so I have been overusing alcohol for past 15 years, although I seem to be able to go days without drinking as long as I ice my back after work. I've been terrified to have the surgery but my L5 has slipped to grade III. I have seen numerous surgeons but always back out last minute. I think I may just take the leap of faith and get the fusion before I can't walk. It’s a very tough decision but at 54 years old I may be at the point of no return.

Comment from: Niven, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 26

I too like many of the people here, suffer with L5, S1 spondylolisthesis. My spine has degenerated and slipped causing untold amounts of pain and it is 24/7 with lack of sleep caused by the pain. I also get referred pain in my left side of abdomen and numbness in legs and pins and needles in feet etc. I am at the stage where I need surgery and have been offered one last thing which are facet joint injections as I have had epidural and root nerve and pars injections which have only taken away the numbness for a short while but now I"m back at square one again. I am very frightened at the thought of surgery and when I have my appointment after I have had the facet joint injections, I will go with the surgery option as I think as I have tried all other treatments. It is very important to keep going as best as you can but everybody copes differently and my heart goes out to you all.

Comment from: 64 and feel like 100, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

I had degenerative arthritis of my neck when I was about 50. After being sent from Dr. to Dr. I demanded to see a rheumatologist. He took an x-ray, send no wonder I hurt, send I had degenerative arthritis, around C5 I think. I never had neck pain only headaches and muscle spasms in my shoulders. He gave me Diclofenac, worked like a miracle and took it for years. I am now 64, considered myself healthy. One year ago I caught my tiny 4 year old granddaughter in the pool over my head. The sharp hyperextension of my back caused the spondylolisthesis in my lower back. I probably already had arthritis there but was pain free. After a year of PT and taking pain meds at least twice a day and muscle relaxants, I am considering fusion of L4-L5-S1. The last is the most severe; I can feel the bone sticking out of my back. "Only" grade 2, also severe spinal stenosis. In engineering terms it seems like this will only get worse and I will be older and less able to deal with surgery. Concerned about the after surgery pain, long recovery and they say will still have some back pain.

Comment from: debbie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 30

I hurt my back over 25 years ago, and have been in a lot of pain with my back, hips, legs. Often crying with the pain. The doctors have never been bothered about my back. I only found out, when I visited a physo. looked at my back and said you have spondylolisthesis, but nothing had been done about it and now I have been diagnosed with ms. I just do my housework over a week as that is all I can cope with.

Comment from: nikki100, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 05

I have a grade 3 (75%) L5/S1 spondylolisthesis - my consultant says it is congenital. I refused a spine fusion 5 years ago, although I have suffered intermittent pain it hasn't been too bad until recently. My life feels as though it has just stopped and I am uncertain now as to how to proceed. I was always anti-surgery and kept fit and active, however that doesn't seem to be effective any longer.

Comment from: Annie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 23

I have spondylolisthesis and the pain in my buttocks and legs is horrid. Pain medications don't help, and the doctor won't give me an injection. So I have been trying massage and acupuncture. It helps. My pain most days is about half of what it was before I tried these.

Comment from: me, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 02

Although I have been told that my spondylolisthesis is degenerative, the pain began about three years ago after a running injury. Since that time, I have lived with pain and stiffness. I thought something was wrong with my hip and so was surprised with the diagnosis. I am planning to have a fusion in July. I cannot wait. I don’t like feeling limited. I want to get back to my active life.


Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life. See Answer
Comment from: tilly41, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 16

I feel like I'm reading about myself on everyone’s post. I have had severe back pain for the last 6 years. My MRI shows spondyloithesis, degenerative disc disease L4,5 and S1. Sometimes I can feel bone grinding on bone. I do walk on an incline on the treadmill and to strength training to stay toned. I need to be very careful when trying to work my core. I have been told by several Dr's that pt does not help and to be careful with anything that would cause twisting action to work my core. My children are 12 and 8 and I feel I'm missing out on a lot of play time with them. I have had steroid injections that helped for about 3 weeks then all I had were side effects from the steroids. I currently take pain meds to get through the day. They do help but I don’t want to rely on pain Meds the rest of my life. I have heard very little from people who have had surgery and were satisfied with the result and many have had more than 1 surgery. My doctor tells me to hold off as long as I can. I'm a nurse my job is bending lifting and twisting. There are some days that I can't even bend over to pick up a sock off the floor. I Do NOT want to spend the rest of my life like this and also don't want many surgeries. I feel HELPLESS! I have a lot of family support and I'm grateful but enough is enough.

Comment from: Princess Khloe, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 01

I just had x-ray of my lower back and I had spondylolisthesis of the anterior L4 and L5. I need to know if yoga can help with this condition. My background I am a nurse.

Comment from: Celticlove, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 20

I already submitted a long scenario of my conditions, age, and symptoms. I think I also said what caused my spondy. When I was 4 years old I ran out in front of a car and was run over. My pelvis was broken in two places and my left femur was also fractured. I was in a body cast for months, did intense PT, and had to learn to walk all over again. I could never run, and always walked with a limp. I fooled the doctors. I ended up one heck of an athlete – until September of 2012. I am now waiting disability so I can get my MRI and then see a specialist. I'm 49, have grade 4 anterior, along with spinal stenosis, bone spurs, neuropathy, and sciatica. Happy days – not.

Comment from: annoysmom, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 06

I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis in 1978. I was having some back pain while jogging and after an X-ray, it showed my L4 was connected with cartilage. The vertebrae above and below had shifted out of place. My doctor gave me a set of exercises to do daily to strengthen my abdominal muscles which I have done pretty faithfully for over 30 years. They have been a lifesaver! That, along with anti-inflammatory medications, has allowed me to live a pretty normal life. I am always very careful to take the drug after a meal so I am not taking it on an empty stomach.

Comment from: hbinwebb, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 11

I don’t know what caused my spondylolisthesis. The Dr. says probably the fact that I have Osteoarthritis in my spine. I thought I pulled something because the most severe part of the pain started on July 4th 2011 at work. I’m a CNA, so I have a very active job. I have done Chiropractic, PT, Pain injections (in my spine), pain medicine and just last week a percutaneous rhizotomy. It hurt so bad that I woke up (out of the anesthesia). Next step is a surgery to put a bracket on my spine to hold the vertebra in place. Not looking forward to it. I am praying that this rhizotomy works. Went back to work today for the first time after the surgery and my back hurt so bad after work, I came home and am not moving from my chair. I guess I’m willing to do anything to fix this. I don’t wont to live with this pain for ever.

Comment from: 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: December 08

My orthopedic surgeon said that I was either born with the problem or that I was injured as a child. I didn't have any pain problems until my mid-50's; he said I have some degree of arthritis developing in my spine, so it is probably what brought it to the surface.

Published: October 11

I just found out today that I have it at age 45. Totally active guy who still works out but was told today to hold up on working out till a spinal surgeon evaluates mri. Tthey think the disc has moved 7mm. have had terrible pain in legs and lower back and finally went to have it checked after dealing with it for 15 months. I hope I don't have to have surgery.

Comment from: jane, 7-12 Female (Caregiver) Published: June 20

My daughter who is 8 years has just been diagnosed with spondylolisthesis. The doctor believes she has had the condition since birth. The doctor had advised us to trial physio and analgesia. Some days she wakes up crying and can barely walk other days more mild symptoms.

Comment from: jonny c, Male (Patient) Published: May 23

I have had lower back pain for the past 19 years or so. I am in the military and just assumed that lower back pain is the standard price paid for the line of work I do. In the past 6 months the pain has worsened to the point that I have numbness in my lower back and legs. Last week my physical therapist took several x-rays of my lower back. I have spnondylolithesis potentially of both the degenerative and traumatic types. I now have arthritic issues (growths) and a cracked vertebrate as well. My pain is increasingly getting worse to point where everything I do to include sleeping is being affected. I am so tired of living with the amount of pain I must endure daily. I don't do too good with standard prescription pain medications so I am wondering if I should push my orthopedic surgeon to perform surgery (spinal fusion).