Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips out of place. This slight slippage can sometimes cause compression of the nerves and, in some cases, cause tingling, numbness, pain, and even weakness in the legs.
Spondylolisthesis can be the result of a trauma to the spine, a congenital defect or simply be a progression of osteoarthritis. Spondylolisthesis can occur, without apparent cause, as people age. In younger individuals, spondylolisthesis usually occurs as a result of trauma during sports such as gymnastics or football and can cause a fracture in the vertebra.
Spondylolisthesis is found in the spine. The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae and between them are the intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers. Spondylolisthesis most often affects the lumbar region, particularly the L5 vertebra.
Signs & Symptoms that you may experience with spondylolisthesis.
Each person will react differently to the presence of spondylolisthesis and symptoms can vary considerably. Initially, spondylolisthesis may be present without any noticeable symptoms.
When pain is present, it is often felt in the lower back or the buttocks. It can range from mild to severe and can affect daily activities such as walking. Burning and tingling sensations may be felt in the area of the buttocks and legs.
Sitting or leaning forward is often less painful than standing or walking because of the positioning of the spine.
▶ WHAT TO DO
Relative rest is a good way to protect your back and prevent your condition from getting worse, but it is important to avoid over-protecting it. A temporary reduction in activity may be necessary, but a quick return to your daily activities, light cardiovascular exercise and specific strengthening and mobility exercises will allow for better recovery.
Follow your therapist’s advice. This will help you manage your symptoms and increase the chances of successful rehabilitation. Your therapist will accompany you during your rehabilitation program to restore your mobility, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and functional status.
According to the principles of spondylolisthesis rehabilitation, the reduction of joint and muscle stresses in the lumbopelvic-hip complex (back, pelvis, hip), the improvement of posture and thoracic mobility, muscular balance and weight control would be important elements for a functional recovery.
A progressive training program over a period of a few weeks including education on load-lifting techniques is quite common.
▶ WHAT TO AVOID
Do not rely solely on a passive treatment approach. Patients who actively participate in their treatment plan tend to better manage the symptoms caused by spondylolisthesis. Remember that pain is not always a good indicator of tissue damage. As soon as you feel better and the pain is well under control, introduce, in collaboration with your therapist, mild strengthening, mobility and cardiovascular exercises based on your tolerance.