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Posted by Glenn on October 05, 2000 at 22:47:13:

In Reply to: What Exactly is Spondy.? posted by Francesca on October 05, 2000 at 18:10:21:

Francesca,

First off, Ian explained it pretty well. I'll try to elaborate a little (yeah right, me a little!). Spondylolisthesis is the shifting of one vertebra forward. It can only happen if there is a problem with the part of the vertebra that is supposed to stop this (I believe this is called the pedicle). Some people are born with this defect, others cause the damage when they are kids. The most common cause of the damage are gymnastics and football.

Anyway, once the vertebra shifts forward, it can cause three separate problems. First off, it increases the tension on the muscles, and spasms will occur. Second (my original problem), it will increase the pressure on the disk and cause either bulging and/or herniation. Thirdly (and my problem), because the vertebra moves and shrinks the nerve root exit, it can cause constriction of the nerve root which will cause the numbness, burning, pain, etc. in the extremeties.

There are four grades of spondylolisthesis. Grade 1 (which I have gratefully) is up to 25% slippage. Grade 2 up to 50%, grade 3 up to 75% and grade 4 up to 100%.

Surgery is deemed absolutely for grade 3 and 4, but grade 1 and 2 are sometimes treated successfully through conservative means.

Glenn


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