Spondylolisthesis

A spondylolisthesis is the translation of a vertebral over the one below it often caused by a fracture in part of the vertebra. Depending on the severity as well as other factors including strength and flexibility, this can lead to slippage of the vertebra. This fracture can be due to congenital abnormalities or weakness in the bone as well as repeated movements into extension or trauma as with car accidents. It is common among young, female athletes especially gymnasts, dancers, etc. who perform repeated extension movements as well as football plays due to forceful contact made in a slightly extended posture.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

  • Low back pain that worsens with standing for long periods of times and is relieved with sitting down
  • Radiating pain, numbness, and/or tingling into leg in more serious causes with vertebral slippage, resulting in the bone compressing nerves leaving the spinal cord towards the leg
  • Tightness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased range of motion

HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?

Your physical therapist will guide you in activities to avoid in order to reduce pain and promote healing. Treatment will focus on reducing pain through soft tissue mobilization and manual stretching to avoid strain on involved vertebrae as well as functional exercises especially for abdominal, back, and glute muscles. Your PT will also provide education on proper posture, lifting mechanics, and body mechanics with high-level activities. Lastly, your PT will give you a home exercise program to help you return to your normal level of function.

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