Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one spinal segment has slipped over another, often compressing a nerve and causing pain. “Spondy” means “spine” and “listhesis” means “to slip.”

This misalignment typically occurs as a result of degenerative changes, stress fractures, or congenital abnormalities, and in rare cases from a tumor or trauma. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is a consequence of the aging process in which the bones, joints, and ligaments in the spine grow weakened and become less able to maintain the alignment of the spinal column. This type of spondylolisthesis typically occurs in the lower lumbar spine.

Degenerative spondylolisthesis is more common in people over age 50, and in particular among individuals over age 65. Women are two to three times as likely as men to be diagnosed with this condition.


• Lower back and/or leg pain
• Sciatica, an aching pain in the hips, buttocks, and lower back that spreads into the legs
• A shuffling gait when walking
• Weakness in the lower extremities
• Abnormal posture

Spondylolisthesis is graded 1-4, with Grade 1 being the least severe and Grade 4 the most severe.

>> Learn more from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.