I've been searching the Internet for information on a condition called lateral listhesis. I have back pain and the surgeon thinks this listhesis is the cause of it. What are my chances of getting better without surgery? I figure if you go to a surgeon, they do surgery so that's what they recommend. My regular doctor doesn't really know enough about the condition to advise me. I need the advice of an expert who is impartial. What do you think?
It sounds like you are trying to make a decision about whether or not to have surgery for this problem called listhesis (or lateral listhesis to be more precise). You may have heard of a condition called spondylolisthesis where one vertebra (spine bone) slips in front of another. With listhesis, one vertebral bone starts to slide off to the side of the next vertebra. Spondylolisthesis is more of a front-to-back shift of the bones. Listhesis (also known as lateral listhesis is a shift from side-to-side.
When one vertebral bone shifts in any direction, it tends to pull on the nerve tissue. Depending on the location in the spine, the shift could increase pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots as they exit the cord. The result of compression on these nerve tissues is back and/or leg pain.
Surgery to take pressure off the nerve tissue is often recommended for this problem. And research supports this idea as results are better with surgery for this problem than with conservative (nonoperative) care. Conservative care includes physical therapy, education, and medications (usually anti-inflammatories). You can always try one or more of these but give it a good six months to see the full effect.