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A to Z: Spondylolisthesis

May also be called: Slipped Vertebra

Spondylolisthesis (spon-duh-low-lis-THEE-sis) is when one of the vertebrae slips forward and out of place on the vertebra beneath it.

More to Know

There are nine vertebrae fused together to form the tailbone and 24 stacked on top of one another in the vertebral column. The five closest to the tailbone, where spondylolisthesis is typically found, are the lumbar vertebrae.

When one of the vertebrae slips out of place in the column, it can cause back pain, muscle tightness, and long-term spinal problems. This can be a result of injury, repetitive stress, or a fracture in one of the vertebrae (spondylolysis).

Keep in Mind

Most people with spondylolisthesis get better by resting and doing exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the back. Only in rare cases is surgery needed to correct the condition.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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