Anteriolisthesis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Read about Anteriolisthesis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment.

The term anterolisthesis is derived from a Latin word ante that means front and a Greek word listhesis that means sliding down on a path that is slippery. Putting the terms together, you will have “antelisthesis” that means a front slide down a path that is slippery.

This is the reason why anterolisthesis refers to the condition of the spine in which the upper body of vertebral, the area shaped like drum at the front of each vertebrae slips forwards on to the vertebra. This is basically another term for spondylolisthesis.

The vertebrae are the bones that protect the spinal cord. Each vertebra has a thick drum-shaped area in front called a vertebral body. Between the vertebrae are spaces that allow nerves (nerve roots) to go from the spinal cord to other parts of the body. In anterolisthesis, there is abnormal positioning of the upper vertebral body when compared to the body of the lower vertebra.

Anteriolisthesis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Anteriolisthesis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Grading of Anteriolisthesis

A commonly adopted method of grading spondylolisthesis is the Meyerding classification, based on the ratio of overhanging part of the superior vertebral body to the anteroposterior length of the adjacent inferior vertebral body:

  • Grade I: 0-25%
  • Grade II: 26-50%
  • Grade III: 51-75%
  • Grade IV: 76-100%
  • Grade V: >100% Vertebral body completely fallen off i.e. spondyloptosis

Symptoms of Anteriolisthesis

The symptoms as of anterolisthesis may vary greatly because the intensity and severity of the same is dependent on the amount pinch that the slippage exerts on the nerve roots. The symptoms may also vary depending on the area that is affected by the slippage.

The anterolisthesis causes severe pain at the point of vertebrae slippage. That pain may be localized or wide spread. The pain will keep on worsening because of the muscular spasms or guarding as the body attempts to protect itself.

The muscle spasms and muscle guarding will cause them to tighten and this will cause inflammation and severe pains around the tissues that are adjacent to the disc, spine and nerve roots. The pain receptors will thus generate more and severe pain thus creating endless vicious cycle of increasing pain.
Leg pain that may be experienced at one or both legs of the patient
Some patients also complain of weakness of the legs and this may or may not be accompanied by numbness.
Other anterolisthesis symptoms include:

  • Tingling sensations
  • Inability to control the legs
  • Pain in the low back, especially after exercise
  • Increased lordosis (i.e., swayback)
  • Inability to control the passage of urine or bowel movements

Anterolisthesis Causes

Spondylolisthesis may be caused by any of a number of problems with the small joints in your back. You could have:

  • A defective joint since birth (congenital)
  • A joint damaged by an accident or other trauma
  • A vertebra with a stress fracture caused from overuse of the joint
  • A joint damaged by an infection or arthritis.
  • Cartilage degeneration
  • Constant pressure from manual works
  • Defective bones that resulted from diseases and disorders such as growth of tumor

Spondylolisthesis affects children and teens involved in sports. Some sports, such as gymnastics or weight lifting, can overuse back bones to the point of causing stress fractures in vertebrae, which can result in spondylolisthesis.Older adults can develop spondylolisthesis, because wear and tear on the back leads to stress fractures. It can also occur without stress fractures when the disc and joints are worn down and slip out of place.

Risk Factors of Anteriolisthesis

Risk factors are also being considered to the onset of anterolisthesis such as:

  • Advancement in age wherein the condition of anterolisthesis is common in older people
  • Occupational factor where an individual is subjected to hyperextension
  • Individuals with highly delicate and weak backbones
  • Athletes such as weight lifter and gymnasts that require hyperextension of body from lifting, jumping and from those that require large forces to carry an activity

Anteriolisthesis Treatment

Treatment is categorized as:

Conservative Treatment

Conservative treatment is the first line of treating anterolisthesis. The mode of treatment is based on the symptoms including the age and overall health status of the patient. Conservative treatments include the following:


Treatment for spondylolisthesis begins with stopping any physical activity that may have led to vertebrae damage.


To help relieve pain, take Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen or naproxen

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is suggested to build up stomach and back muscles i.e. core strengthening

Non Conservative Treatment

If the condition is bad enough and has not responded to conservative treatment such as rest and physical therapy, anterolisthesis is treated through a surgical technique

Decompression Surgery

Surgery may be done to remove bone or other tissue to take pressure off the spinal cord or nerves. This is known as decompression.

Interbody Fusion Surgery

Surgery may be done to fuse the bones in position. This surgical technique is known as interbody fusion.

Post-opt Rehabilitation

After any of these surgeries it is required to wear a cast or back brace for a while. Later, rehabilitation therapy will help make your muscles stronger and movement easier.

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