What is Spondylolisthesis?

By Ehren Allen, PT, CMT

What is Spondylolisthesis?

The quick answer, spondylolisthesis is a spine condition that occurs when a vertebra slips forward onto another vertebra. The pain can increase if the vertebrae slip too far and pinch a nerve. Often the patient does not have the abdominal core strength, or the patient experienced a traumatic event to the spine.

This guide aims to shed light on this condition, covering its symptoms and diagnosis, non-surgical and treatment remedies, medical interventions, preventive measures, and the importance of professional consultation.  JOI is here to help you get back to the activities that you love without pain!

What are Types of Spondylolistheses?

What is Spondylolisthesis? It can cause back pain

Pain can increase if the vertebrae slip too far and pinch a nerve.

  • Degenerative: This condition occurs with the advanced aging process. The disks between the vertebrae become less spongy with age and cannot resist the shear forces in the spine. The result is an increased slipping forward on the vertebrae.
  • Congenital: This patient from birth has an abnormal formation of bone. The spine is more susceptible to slippage due to the abnormal formation at birth.
  • Isthmic: 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.
What is spondylolisthesis?

Vertebra slips forward.

What are the Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis?

The majority of patients 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 to keep a straight posture. Physicians commonly prescribe physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be required.

For pain management, injections such as epidural steroid injections and facet joint injections can be beneficial. These inject anti-inflammatory medication directly into the affected area, providing pain relief.

Preventing Low Back Pain Through Lifestyle Changes

Prevention and lifestyle changes play a crucial role in managing back pain. Adopting a few simple habits and making minor adjustments to your daily routine can significantly reduce the risk of developing or worsening your pain, especially when your back hurts.

Good posture, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits are key to a healthier back. Avoid prolonged periods of inactivity, especially extended sitting, and maintain a healthy weight. Remember to lift heavy objects correctly to avoid lower back muscle strain. Incorporate regular exercise and proper posture into your routine and make these lifestyle changes today for a healthier back.

When to Seek Professional Help

Recognizing when to consult a healthcare provider is crucial when dealing with spondylolisthesis. If your pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or difficulty controlling bladder or bowels, seek immediate medical attention.

Choosing the right specialist for your condition is essential. Specialists who commonly treat the back include orthopedic surgeons and physiatrists.  JOI has several board-certified spine physicians who can help you.

During your medical consultation, ask questions to ensure you receive appropriate care. Inquire about the cause of your pain, treatment options, risks and benefits of each treatment, and possible lifestyle changes to manage your lower back pain. By doing so, you can actively participate in managing your condition and finding the most effective treatment.

Related Articles: Best Core Stabilization Exercises

 Physical Therapy Options

A slipped vertebrae can be uncomfortable for anyone. JOI physical therapists at JOI Rehab can help manage 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.  

The JOI Physicians are Northeast Florida’s most respected orthopedic practice.  To make an appointment with a JOI Spine Physician, please schedule online or call 904-JOI-2000.

By: Ehren Allen, PT, CMT

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