Daily life can take its toll on our spine. This becomes especially noticeable as we age and the skeletal components that reinforce our spine degrade. Spondylolisthesis, a common complication of spinal degeneration, occurs when an unprotected vertebra slips painfully forward over the vertebra that lies beneath it.
Degenerative Disc Disease is a common cause of spondylolisthesis. As we age, our intervertebral discs—the rubbery cushions that protect our spinal vertebrae from vertical or horizontal forces known as compression and shear—become dryer. Loss of this natural defense significantly increases our likelihood of sustaining an accidental injury, such as a slipped vertebra (spondylolisthesis) or a ruptured disc.
The aging process can also weaken the hinge-like facet joints that support our spinal vertebrae on the backside of our spine. Breakdown of these joints promotes excess forward flexion of the spine, advancing the progression of arthritis and leaving our spine defenseless against spondylolisthesis. We normally think of spinal flexibility as a good thing; however, an unaligned vertebra can impinge upon neighboring nerves, resulting in symptoms of excruciating discomfort and muscular weakness.