What is a Spondylolisthesis?
A spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slides forward, or anteriorly, compared to the vertebra below it. This is most common in the lower lumbar spine at L4 or L5 but it can also occur in other parts of the spine or even in the neck. They are graded in severity from 1 to 5. Grade 1 is a very small displacement and grade 5 is a total displacement. Causes may include trauma, degeneration over time or some people are simply born with a spondylolisthesis. While it is common for someone with a lumbar spondylolisthesis to suffer from lower back pain, some people may have one for years without even realizing they have this condition. Typically, a more severe displacement will be more likely to lead to a patient having symptoms of back or neck pain. However, there can be people that have a grade 3 or grade 4 spondylolisthesis and have little or no symptoms. Normally an x-ray, MRI or CT scan will be used to image, diagnose and grade the severity of this condition. Patients with this condition often have tight muscles in their hip flexors and the front of their thighs while the hamstring muscles may be weak. This muscle imbalance can play a role in the development of symptoms.
Chiropractic and Spondylolisthesis
Chiropractic care may be able help people that have symptoms from this condition. In our office in Sioux Falls, our chiropractors see patients that have spondylolisthesis present in the lower back and sometimes even in the neck. At your visit we would discuss the case history, analyze the spine and review images of the area. Then, we may adjust the segments above or below the spondylolisthesis. In general a chiropractor will not adjust the affected vertebra itself. Core exercises, postural changes, and/or stretching exercises also may be recommended. Most patients that have this condition can live a normal life with minimal disruptions, but a small percentage may require surgical intervention. If you know of someone with symptoms that may be from a spondylolisthesis, chiropractic care may be able to help them reach their goals.