Mild cases of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis usually cause minimal pain. In fact, the conditions are often found by accident when a person has a pre-employment exam or an X-ray of the back for an unrelated reason.
Those who play sports, especially gymnasts and football players, are more likely to have spondylolisthesis. The condition most often affects people over 40 years of age. About 5% of Americans have this structural deficiency and don't know it. Just because it appears on an X-ray doesn't mean you'll have pain.
Your doctor may also order an (magnetic resonance imaging scan). The MRI machine uses magnetic waves rather than X-rays to show the soft tissues of the body. It can help in the diagnosis of spondylolisthesis. It can also provide information about the health of nerves and other soft tissues.