Spondylolisthesis (SPON-dill-oh-lis-THEE-sis) is a condition where one vertebra misaligns slipping in a forward direction compared to the vertebra below it. Referred to as “spondylo” for short. Normally this forward slippage is a weakening or fracture of the ‘pars’ or the back of the joint. (Figure A) This weakening or fracture will allow the vertebra to shift forward pulling and injuring the nerve while creating an unnatural shearing force on the disc below. This is a dangerous condition because it puts a strain on the spinal cord. Spondylolisthesis is clearly visible on an x-ray because it disrupts the natural curve of the lumbar spine most commonly occurring at L5.
Spondylolisthesis can create symptoms ranging from mild stiffness in the lower back and hamstrings to severe lower back
pain with a shooting leg pain. There are five categories of spondylolisthesis. These types’ describe the conditions origin. For example, traumatic, degenerative or, pathologic best describe the different ways the spondylo began in the patients’ case.
Risk factors for spondylolisthesis include a family history of back problems. People who are born with a defect in one or more bones of the spine are at increased risk. Other risk factors include a history of repetitive trauma or hyperextension of the lower back. Athletes like gymnasts, weight lifters and football lineman are at increased risk due to putting extreme forces on their spines.
Non-Invasive and conservative treatment for ‘spondylo’ includes resting, using ice, avoiding activities such as lifting or bending until the symptoms decrease. Using chiropractic adjustments on the misaligned joint to improve position and
reduce nerve pressure is very common and effective. This will help prevent further stiffening and degenerative changes to the joint.
If you or someone you know is suffering with back pain. Refer them in for a consultation and examination to find the underlying cause of the symptoms.
Call Dr. Nicholas LaHood, D.C. to schedule your consultation and exam to see if conservative treatment can help your condition. Happy Holidays to you and your family.