Spondylolisthesis Overview

By Ehren Allen, PT, CMT


Spine Anatomy

Spondylolisthesis is a spine condition which occurs when a vertebrae slips forward onto another vertebrae. This typically occurs at the base of the spine. Pain can increase if the vertebrae slips too far and pinches a nerve. Often the patient does not have good abdominal core strength or the patient experienced a traumatic event to the spine.

How Does Spondylolisthesis Occur?

Spondylolisthesis has three main types:

  • Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: This condition occurs with the advanced aging process. The disks between the vertebrae become less spongy with age and are less able to resist the sheer forces in the spine. The result is an increased slipping forward on the vertebrae.
  • Congenital Spondylolisthesis: This patient from birth has an abnormal formation of bone. In these cases, the spine is more susceptible to slippage due to the abnormal formation at birth.
  • Isthmic Spondylolisthesis: This is a patient that already has spondylosis, which is a condition that results in small stress fractures in the bone. The stress fractures weaken the bone to cause the forward slippage of the vertebrae.


Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

The majority of patients who are diagnosed with spondylolisthesis experience low back pain or pain along their entire spine. In some cases patients don’t experience any symptoms and are unaware that one of their vertebrae even slipped. This condition is common with young adults who participate in gymnastics, offensive lineman, CrossFit/olympic lifters and baseball players.

Treatment of Spondylolisthesis

Rest and taking a break from physical activities is the most common remedy for Spondylolisthesis. Braces and other devices used for back support are also suggested in order to keep a straight posture. Physical therapy is commonly prescribed by physicians. In some cases, surgery may be required.

 Physical Therapy Options for Spondylolisthesis

A slipped vertebrae can be uncomfortable for anyone. That being said, our physical therapists here at JOI Rehab can help manager your pain symptoms and improve your core strength. JOI also offers access to our Spine Center, which provides relief for patients experiencing back or neck pain. If you are interested in scheduling a physical therapy appointment to treat Spondylolisthesis, call 904-858-7045 .  

By: Ehren Allen, PT, CMT

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