The fact that the spine is constructed of individual vertebrae enables it to support the body while remaining flexible. The vertebrae are situated vertically - like the links of a chain. In spondylolisthesis, a vertebra is displaced from this ordered structure. In most cases, it slides forward towards the abdominal wall.
The variant vertebra, the “listhesis”, can be congenital or the result of deterioration or injury. It does not always produce problems, but it is often accompanied by back pain, sometimes radiating to the thighs. In some cases, the displacement of the vertebra is so great that it exerts pressure on nerves or even bruises them.
A vertebra that does not slide so dramatically can be treated conservatively with exercise, muscle building and pain medications. However, if the variant vertebra places too much pressure on the nerve, surgery may be useful: The listhesis is put back in its original position and fixed there.