Spondylolisthesis – what is it?
Treatment for Spondylolisthesis sometimes depends on the severity of the condition. Spondylolisthesis is Latin for “slipped vertebral body”. There are several types of spondylolisthesis, depending on the mechanism of injury. However, the most common type is degenerative spondylolisthesis due to existing osteoarthritis in the spine. In most cases, it is a silent condition. That means the condition does not necessarily cause any symptoms to the individual. Sometimes, this slipped vertebral is being witnessed only when a person undergoes regular spinal check. Typically, the slippage is seen on a Lateral Lumbar X-rays (side view of the low back).
The severity of the pain and discomfort most commonly depend on the degree of the vertebral displacement. Ranging from Grade 1 to 4, Grade 4 being the most severe displacement seen in spondylolisthesis. Low back pain, radiating pain , joint stiffness, tingling and reduced range of motion are the common clinical presentation in individuals with this condition. Upon spinal palpation and assessment, a step defect at the level of “vertebral slippage” can be felt. When the condition is severe, the lesion can cause serious nerve irritation and the individual may present with neurological symptoms.
Treatment option for Spondylolisthesis
Treatment options for Spondylolisthesis vary from simple at home measures to surgery. Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which one or more spinal vertebrae have destabilized, for any number of reasons, and slipped out of place. Depending on the degree of vertebral displacement, your overall health and other factors, your doctor may recommend a variety of treatment tactics, often starting with non-surgical strategies in an attempt to alleviate any discomfort.
- Medications – Pain medications, such as acetaminophen, and/or NSAID’s (e.g. ibuprofen, COX-2 inhibitors) or oral steroids to reduce inflammation in the area.
- Spinal traction – Spinal traction can be used to reduce tension and pressure to the affected area.
- A stabilization brace – To limit spinal movement and ease pain
- Heat and/or ice application – to reduce localized pain. Generally, ice is recommended to relieve pain or discomfort directly after an activity that has caused the pain. Heat application is suggested for muscles relaxation and promote blood flow for a better healing environment.
- Physical Therapy – Stretching is beneficial and beginning with hamstring stretching and progressing over time.
- Manual manipulation – Chiropractic Spinal Adjustment can help reduce pain by mobilizing painful mechanical joint dysfunctions.
Most patients will not need any surgical treatment as long as their condtion is stable, meaning the vertebra is not slipping forward any more. To make sure the condition is stable, spinal movement should be encouraged to keep the spine mobile. In addition, it is important to keep the spinal alignment close to the body’s center of gravity as much as possible. This is to reduce mechanical stress to the segment with spondylolisthesis to prevent further deterioration. All these can be achieved through careful spinal manipulation by our Certified Chiropractor and spinal traction devices.