What is Spondylolysis?
We call spondylolysis a fracture in the lumbar section of the spine.
It appears mainly in people involved in sports activities and athletes. It is usually caused by the continued and repeated flexions and extensions of the lumbar section of the spine, over a long period of time. Essentially, it appears to be a series of microfractures caused by stress and accompanied by acute pain in the spine.
Diagnosis is initially effected by radiographic inspection and in the second stage by bone scintigraphy. A conservative treatment is usually recommended, with the application of an orthopaedic brace.
What is Spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is a condition where a vertebra slips out of place onto the vertebra below.
It is an unnatural slippage, beyond the scope of the normal movement of the spine. It can cause severe lower back pain in the back and, if the nerve tissue is pinched, it may also cause leg pain while the stiffness of the affected area, muscular weakness, or even numbness of the legs are also noted. The body modifies its posture, leaning forward and creating an image of lordosis.
Spondylolisthesis appears mainly in women. It may be congenital, traumatic, or even degenerative, which we usually encounter in old women, with arthritic conditions, such as osteoarthrosis, following a fall or a lower back injury, and pathological, i.e. in spine tumours.
Diagnosis – Treatment
Spondylolisthesis is treated on a case per case basis, according to the clinical image of diagnostic tests, (x-rays, MRI) and the treatment recommended by the treating physician. In several cases, conservative treatment is recommended, with physiotherapy and a lumbar brace. In these cases, the brace is removed after six months and the symptoms recede definitively by 90%. In patients suffering from acute symptoms, who do not respond to the conservative treatment, spondylolisthesis is treated surgically.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal.
It is mainly caused by osteoarthritis of the spine, or in combination with herniated discs. This results in the compression and pinching of the nervous elements (spinal cord – nerves). Patients experience pain in their limbs and lumbar stiffness. In more serious cases, where there is a pressure on the dural sac, numbness, tingling and burning are also experienced, as well as a lack of balance If the stenosis is cervical, we have cervical myelopathy with symptoms affecting the hands and legs.
At the same time, prolonged standing, walking and weight-lifting, increase the symptoms.
Patients with activities, that bend or do not burden their spine (such as the seated or supine position), experience a reduction of the symptoms, due to the decompression of the spinal canal. Diagnosis is effected by anamnesis, clinical assessment, ex-rays and MRI or CT scan.
Usually, for people suffering from spinal stenosis, the Scoliosis SLC centre uses special, supportive decompression braces, achieving the reduction of lordosis, of pain and granting the possibility of standing and reducing all of the negative symptoms.