Forward slips (antero-spondylolisthesis or anterolisthesis) are due to wearing out or fracture of bony restraints called facets. Failure of these allows a forward motion of the vertebrae on top compared to the lower vertebra. A backward movement (retrolisthesis) occurs due to wear or failure of ligamentous tissue such as disc and facet capsule.
Anterolisthesis is much more common than retrolisthesis as the spine “wants” to fall forward due to gravity. A retrolisthesis normally occurs due to forces above the rearward slipped vertebra. Generally an anterolisthesis is more serious as there is bony destruction and a higher chance for neurological compression.
Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.