Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"If I don't have surgery for my spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, and neuropathy, will it paralyze me?"

ZocdocAnswersIf I don't have surgery for my spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, and neuropathy, will it paralyze me?


I have grade 4 anterior spondylolethesis, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, deterioration and neuropathy. My sciatica is goes from my left hip, travels down my thigh, into my knee, down the outside of my lower leg, into the top of my foot. Numbness, tingling, sharp knife pains, cramps, loss of muscle control, loss of balance, symptoms (most everyone) of autonomic neuropathy. I could go on.


That is a great question and one that is best answered by your primary care doctor or a doctor specializing in spine surgery such as a neurosurgeon. Spondylolethesis is when the vertebral bone slips forward all the way to the front of the next bone so that it is either perched at the tip of the bone underneath it or has fallen in front of that bone. This can be a painful condition and one that may require surgery. With regards to whether you can be paralyzed from this, it is a very difficult question as your nerves are stretched significantly because of the bone slippage but on the other hand, sometimes these bones can fuse this way on their own which would decrease the risk of anything serious happening. Without seeing your MRI and x-rays, it is difficult to know whether surgery is necessary, but it is certainly recommended that you are evaluated, especially since the description of the pain that you are having do show signs of compression of the nerves that would be in this region. Of course, with surgery there are also risks such as bleeding, infection, and spinal fluid leak but it is important to discuss all the risks and benefits with your doctor before deciding upon undergoing surgery or continuing to watch this.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.