Is Spondylolisthesis the Same as a Slipped Disc?

In spondylolisthesis, a part of the bones in your spine (vertebrae) moves out of place thus it could be mistaken for a slipped disc. However, spondylolisthesis and a slipped disc, also known as a disc herniation, are two different conditions despite the similarities in symptoms. It is best if you consult our experts in orthopedics, Boca Raton to get an accurate diagnosis for your manifestations.

Here are a few facts that make spondylolisthesis and slipped disc different.

What is Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is the misalignment of vertebra located at the spine's base. It can be described as slipping forward or backward of the bony and wing-shaped part of the spine on one side or both sides of the base. 

This condition can start off as a crack or fracture in the spine that eventually separates and shifts, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Children and teenagers can develop spondylolisthesis due to a growth spurt or because they engage in active physical activities as athletes or gymnasts. Adults may develop this condition as well due to the deterioration of the spine in old age. 

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Spondylolisthesis may have other causes as the vertebra can be weak and defective since birth or it could be broken due to body trauma or stress. The vertebra may also be damaged by diseases among adults.

Thus, there are five different types of spondylolisthesis: 

The severity of spondylolisthesis is classified by a grade and 75% of the patients suffer from Grade I spondylolisthesis, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information

What is a Slipped Disc?

A slipped disc, is also called a herniated disc or ruptured disc. Doctors in orthopedic, Boca Raton clarify that this condition can co-exist with spondylolisthesis, but it is not the same disorder.

A slipped disc can occur in both the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back). Its main difference with spondylolisthesis is that it is the soft interior of the spinal cord's disc that misaligns, bulges or tears through the outer layer, as opposed to the slipping of the bony vertebra, which happens in spondylolisthesis.

Both conditions, however, have similar symptoms, such as

However, the pain of a slipped disc can be more constant, while spondylolisthesis pain may manifest with movements like walking and sitting or lying down. 

Treatment for Spondylolisthesis and Slipped Disc

Several cases of spondylolisthesis and slipped disc may require just conservative treatments to help the patient resume their normal activities while experiencing less pain. However, if the condition is due to a fracture, as in the case of isthmic or traumatic spondylolisthesis, then the patient may be required to rest to allow the fracture to completely heal.

Moderate pain may be managed with anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxants, while supported with physical therapy. In some cases, acupuncture and yoga may also help relieve the pain, while some patients may find better relief with an epidural steroid injection. 

Surgery may be necessary if the conservative treatments are not enough and the pain caused by these conditions is already affecting the person's life and general state of health. 

Learn more about Orthopedics, Boca Raton

Orthopaedic Surgery Associates has helped many orthopedic patients improve their health and quality of life throughout the years. We have qualified specialists and state-of-the-art technology so you are in good hands.

If you have questions about spondylolisthesis, slipped disc, and other spine-related conditions, don’t hesitate to contact our specialist orthopedic at Boca Raton. You can also request an appointment or call us at (561) 395-5733.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


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