Spondylolisthesis is a condition where parts of the spine are starting to move out of place. The symptoms for spondylolisthesis grade 1 can come on suddenly, or they may progress slowly over time. To diagnose the condition a doctor will use an imaging test such as an MRI or an X-ray to determine how far the bones in the spine have moved.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition in the spine where one of the spinal bones, known as the vertebrae, slips forward or backward compared to the rest of the bones in the spine. When a vertebrae slips it can cause spinal compression, potential damage to the spinal cord as well as a curvature of the spine. The different grades of spondylolisthesis are based on how much slippage there is of the vertebrae. With spondylolisthesis grade 1, between 1% and 25% slippage occurs.
The initial painful symptoms of spondylolisthesis grade 1 may not be significant. The person may not feel any discomfort at first. But as the vertebrae continues to slip there may be a subtle back pain that gets progressively worse. The pain can originate and remain in the area where the vertebrae is slipping, or there may be pressure put on the surrounding nerves that will cause referred pain.
Referred pain is pain that originates in one part of the body but is felt in another part of the body. For example, if a vertebrae higher up on the spine slips then it may put pressure on a nerve that goes down the arm. The pain would originate in the spine but be felt in the arm.
A few other criteria occur during spondylolisthesis grade 1. Not only is the vertebrae slipping, but the disc that is between the slipping vertebrae and the one next to it is also slipping. In some cases spondylolisthesis grade 1 may displace the disc enough to cause severe, crippling pain. The person may start to feel a sharp or burning pain associated with the slipped disc, and over time this pain may start to tingle. As the spondylolisthesis moves to higher levels of slippage, the pain may turn to numbness and possibly may begin to lose the use of the affected limb.
Treatment of spondylolisthesis grade 1 will normally focus on rest and physiotherapy to help try and strengthen the area where the vertebrae has slipped in the hopes that the muscles will pull the spine back into shape. Pain medication may be used to help get the person relief, and the doctor may recommend no lifting of any heavy objects for a few weeks.
It is important to stay with the treatment plan given by a doctor, and to go for regular follow-ups as well. It is possible for spondylolisthesis grade 1 to progress to grade 2 even with treatment. If symptoms persist without getting any better, or if they seem to get worse, let the doctor know immediately so that further testing can be administered.
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