Spondylolisthesis Tips: Things You Should Know
What is spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis is defined as the displacement or slippage of one of your vertebra compared to another or all others. It is a condition that occurs when your vertebra (the bone in your back) slides forward and over the bone below it.
Spondylolisthesis is derived from two words: "spondylo" meaning spine, and "listhesis" meaning slippage, so essentially the definition of Spondylolisthesis is the slippage of the spine. Although the literal Spondylolisthesis definition is the slippage of the spine, medical dictionaries use the Spondylolisthesis definition of forwarding slippage of one of your vertebra.
What are the 2 types of spondylolisthesis?
There are two types of Spondylolisthesis, classified by the way they are acquired or the way they are caused. These two types are:
- Developmental Spondylolisthesis – Developmental Spondylolisthesis, the first type is one that is present at birth or one that may be acquired during childhood. This type of spondylolisthesis is not easily noticeable until later in childhood or once the person has reached adulthood.
- Acquired Spondylolisthesis – As the name suggests this type of Spondylolisthesis is acquired past childhood and can be acquired in two ways:
- Constant everyday wear and tear on your spine – The connections in your vertebrae may weaken due to the everyday activities that you do, including carrying heavy things and doing a strenuous physical activity that puts stress on your spine may lead to spinal degeneration and Spondylolisthesis.
- Trauma or Injury to the spine – Acquired Spondylolisthesis can also be caused by forced trauma or injury to the spine. For example, the force applied to your spine when falling on your
- Spondylolisthesis tip: Rest as much as you can. Lie on a firm surface. Resting on your back will usually be the most comfortable. Avoid stressful activities and those that increase your pain. Activities most likely to increase the pain of spondylolisthesis are lifting, bending, and prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: Wear comfortable shoes. Your shoes are very important. Most importantly, avoid wearing high-heeled shoes. They do not support correct posture and can increase the pain of spondylolisthesis.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: Use cold packs or an ice pack. Ice or cold packs can help reduce inflammation. Never place an ice pack directly on your skin. Wrap it in a soft towel and place the towel next to the painful area. Leave the ice pack on for a maximum of 20 minutes and you can do this several times a day. If you don't have an ice pack, use a bag of frozen peas or place crushed ice cubes in a water-proof sandwich bag that seals with a zipper closure.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: Use heat. Warmth increases blood flow and circulation to the tissues to help them heal. Oxygen-rich blood flows to the injured area to increase healing and toxins are taken away in the bloodstream. If you use a heating pad, use it on only low heat settings to avoid burns. Heat can also relax tense muscles.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: Some people obtain relief from alternating between applications of heat and cold. Experiment and find what works best for you.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: In the earliest stages of spondylolisthesis, a hyperextension brace is sometimes worn to help limit movement which reduces inflammation and pain. Ask your doctor if this is recommended and what kind you should get.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles, (your core), and increasing the range of movement through the backs of the thighs (hamstrings) and low back (lumbar spine) by stretching can help to relieve pain and muscle tension. Increased muscle strength can also help prevent further slipping of the vertebrae.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: Some people find acupressure or acupuncture to be effective treatments for back pain. Consult with your doctor if acupressure and acupuncture are appropriate for you.
- Spondylolisthesis tip: There are some specific gently manual adjustments that can be performed to relieve the symptoms of spondylolisthesis. It's important to find a skilled and experienced chiropractic practitioner who is knowledgeable of spondylolisthesis if you choose this method of treatment.
Tips to Prevent Spondylolisthesis
- Practice proper posture
- Stand and sit properly
- If you go to the gym, learn how to lift correctly
- Maintain an active lifestyle
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid carrying heavy objects
- Avoid excessive bending and twisting
- Quit smoking
- Stop excessive drinking of alcohol
- Get plenty of sleep and rest
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Follow your doctor's instructions