What Is Spinal Retrothesis?

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 5, 2017

Spinal Retrothesis

Spinal retrothesis is a condition characterized by the movement of a single vertebrae in your spine. The vertebrae in our spine are separated by intervertebral discs, and if these discs become damaged or they deteriorate, it can result in a shift in the location of a vertebrae. When damage to a disc causes a single vertebrae to move backwards on a neighboring vertebrae, this is known as spinal retrothesis. Conversely, if a vertebrae moves forward onto its neighbor, the condition is known as spondylolisthesis. We’ve already covered spondylolisthesis, so today we’re going to focus on spinal retrothesis.

Retrothesis Causes and Symptoms

There are two main causes of spinal retrothesis – nutritional deficiency and physical trauma. Nutritional deficiency can affect the strength and healing of the ligaments and discs in the spinal column, while physical trauma from falls or poor posture can also contribute to vertebral disc displacement.

Symptoms of spinal retrothesis are similar to other disc problems, which include regionalized stiffness, chronic back pain, numbness or pain extending into the buttocks and thighs.

The Different Types of Retrothesis and Their Treatments

In general, spinal specialists can identify three different types of spinal retrothesis. The three types are partial, stair stepped and complete retrothesis.

  • Partial Retrothesis – This involves a situation where the affected vertebral body is posterior to the above or below vertebrae.
  • Stair Stepped Retrothesis – In this case, the body of the vertebrae is posterior to the vertebral body above it and anterior to the vertebral body below it.
  • Complete Retrothesis – In a complete retrothesis, the vertebral body is posterior to both the above and below vertebral bodies.

A diagnosis of spinal retrothesis can typically be formed with a routine x-ray of the spinal column. Once diagnosed, a spinal specialist will usually suggest some conservative treatment options. Some of the best methods for treating retrothesis without surgery include getting a range of specific vitamins and minerals in your diet to aid in the repair of soft tissues (Zinc, Copper, Vitamins A and C, manganese, etc.), weight loss to reduce stress on the spine, non-invasive repositions of the displaced vertebral discs or microcurrent therapy. Should conservative treatments fail, surgery may be necessary to realign the spinal column.

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