Degenerative spondylolisthesis is a disease in which the bones of the spine (vertebrae) slide out of place and the top one slides forward onto the lower vertebra. If it slides too far, the bone can press on the nerve, causing pain. Usually it affects the bones of the lower back. It causes symptoms like the following:
Radicular pain happens as a consequence of compression or inflammation of the spinal nerve in the lower back. The most common complaint of patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis is leg pain, which may be radicular ( in a nerve distribution) in nature. Radicular pain is described in up to 30-40% of patients and may be unilateral or bilateral (one or both sides), usually of the L5 dermatome in an L4-5 slip, although L4 may be affected with severe slips or if the L4-5 disc space is severely collapsed producing foraminal compromise. Radicular pain (ie nerve pain referring along a nerve root) from lateral recess stenosis is often increased with standing.
Symptoms of neuroclaudication occur in up to 40% of patients with degenerative slips. Neuroclaudication refers to balance problems, unsteady gait, or leg weakness that occurs when walking.
Back pain is also a very common symptom. The pain is usually sharp or aching and localized to the lower lumbar region or radiating to the buttocks. There may be a postural correlation and pain may be exacerbated by sitting or standing, consistent with a mechanical cause.
In most cases, leg symptoms improve when sitting and become worse when standing or walking for a short period. Patients often describe a desire to sit down after walking for a short period.
You might also want to read: Physical Examination Findings in Degenerative Spondylolisthesis
At the London Spine Unit, we have some of the best specialists to diagnose and treat degenerative spondylolisthesis. Book an appointment to get a checkup.