In children, spondylolisthesis usually occurs between the fifth bone in the lower back (lumbar vertebra) and the first bone in the sacrum (pelvis) area. It is often due to a birth defect in that area of the spine or sudden injury (acute trauma).
In adults, the most common cause is abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones (such as arthritis).
Bone disease and fractures can also cause spondylolisthesis. Certain sport activities — such as gymnastics, weight lifting, and football — put a great deal of stress on the bones in the lower back. They also require that the athlete constantly overstretch (hyperextend) the spine. This can lead to a stress fracture on one or both sides of the vertebra. A stress fracture can cause a spinal bone to become weak and shift out of place.
Spondylolisthesis may vary from mild to severe. A person with spondylolisthesis may have no symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
- Lower back pain
- Muscle tightness (tight hamstring muscle)
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the thighs and buttocks
- Tenderness in the area of the slipped disc
- Weakness in the legs