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Monday, May 12, 2014

What is a "Spondylolisthesis" of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine)? Shown and explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images.

The term "Lumbar Spondylolisthesis" means a "shift" or "slip" between the Vertebrae of the low back. This is a relatively common spine condition which can cause chronic low back pain. Unlike chiropractic conditions where Vertebrae may be called "slipped" or "misaligned", a Spondylolisthesis is a permanent significant shift between the Vertebrae. It cannot be "realigned" by a chiropractic manipulation.

Spondylolisthesis is typically the result of advanced degeneration of the Spine in older patients. In this patient population, the shift between the Vertebrae is the result of bone spurs which form around degenerated Spinal Discs and Spinal Joints (facet joints). Eventually these bone spurs can force a shift in the spine. However, Spondyloisthesis can also occur in adolescents and young adults due to a traumatic fracture of one of the connecting bones of the Vertebrae (pars interarticularis) on the back of the Spine. If the fracture creates instability in the Spine, it can cause a shift resulting in Spondylolisthesis.

The Color MRI Image below shows a typical Spondylolisthesis. The image of the whole body on the left orients you to the Lumbar Spine (low back) where the blow-up image is taken from. Notice the shift between the L-4 and L-5 Vertebrae. This Image contains Interactive Tags. As you move your mouse cursor over the Image, you will see Interactive Tags appear. Each tags explains a specific part of the Image.

Sagittal Lumbar Spine Color MRI Lumbar Spondylolisthesis
Interactive Color MRI of a Lumbar (Low Back) Spondylolisthesis

The next Image is an Interactive Color X-Ray which shows a Lumbar Spondylolisthesis. Notice the dotted green lines which emphasizes that the Vertebrae are no longer aligned. This particular case is due to a Fracture on the back of the Spine (spondylolysis). This Image is also Interactive.

Lateral Lumbar Spine Color X-Ray of a L4/5 Spondylolisthesis
Interactive Color X-Ray Lumbar Spondylolisthesis

Patients who have a Spinal Spondylolisthesis do not necessarily experience chronic back pain or  require Spine Surgery. Both of these issues depend on many factors such as whether the shift is stable or unstable, whether Spinal Nerves are compressed by the Spondylolisthesis, etc. Typical conservative, non-surgical treatments are pain medications, spine core strengthening exercises, Physical Therapy (PT), spinal injections amongst others.

If you liked the content of this Blog, here are some related Blogs from MMI:

1. What is Sciatica? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images
2. What is a Spinal Fusion Surgery of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine)? Shown and explained with Color X-Ray Images
3. Fractured Vertebrae in the Low Back (Lumbar Compression Fracture) shown and explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images

If you would like to know more about how MMI creates Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images, here is the Video:

Color X-Ray and Color MRI Image like the ones shown in this Blog are available for licensing at

The text and Images contained in this Blog are Copyright Medical Media Images.

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