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A blow to the spine can knock vertebrae out of alignment, causing retrolisthesis.
Arthritis is a leading cause of retrolisthesis in older people, which leads to deterioration of disc tissue.
Severe back injuries and congenital spine defects can also result in vertebral slippage.
Retrolisthesis is most likely to affect a bone in the uppermost section of the spine, called the cervical region.
Cervical vertebrae in the neck are smaller and generally more susceptible to injury.
One day earlier, he had fallen six feet from a ladder. There was tenderness of the posterior neck, upper back, and right trapezius area. He had normal strength, sensation, and reflexes in all four extremities.
His neck was then immobilized in a hard plastic cervical collar. Degenerative changes (osteophytes and anterior longitudinal ligament calcification) of the C4, C5, and C6 vertebral bodies (arrowheads);3.
However, if the retrolisthesis poses a significant health risk, surgery may be used to realign the spine.
Abe Robinson has been a freelance writer since he graduated from college in spring 2009.
In this patient, C5 is displaced 3 mm posteriorly with respect to C6 (asterisk).
Denise Stern is an experienced freelance writer and editor.