How Effective Is Chiropractic Treatment For Spondylolisthesis

How Effective Is Chiropractic Treatment For Spondylolisthesis

Through the use of spinal and manual adjustments or a flexion-distraction technique, chiropractors can be very effective when treating a condition like spondylolisthesis.

The value of chiropractic care is chiropractors can offer a non-invasive way of dealing with pain and skeletal issues. The value of non-invasive treatments can never be understated because such treatments often come with fewer risks.

Spondylolisthesis is considered to be an uncommon condition, albeit a potentially painful one. Most of the time, it’s a condition that can be successfully treated by a chiropractor with a dozen or more spinal adjustments. When successful, patients are able to avoid more invasive treatment options like epidural injections, taking prescription pain medication, and ultimately having to submit to back surgery.

Table of Contents

A Description of Spondylolisthesis?

When one vertebra slips and ends up overlapping an adjacent vertebra, the condition is called spondylolisthesis. It’s a condition that usually occurs in the lower region of the back. As the vertebra slips, it effectively squeezes nerve roots in the spine. This results in the individual experiencing moderate to severe intermittent lower back pain and weakness or numbness in at least one leg.

It’s noteworthy that spondylolisthesis can result in a related condition called sciatica. Sciatica is a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve gets pinched, causing buttocks/leg pain. Note: The sciatic nerve is a single nerve that runs through the middle of the spinal cord and branches out into both legs.

Is there a cure for Spondylolisthesis?

Yes, the spondylolisthesis condition can be “cured.” The cures for spondylolisthesis come from the available treatment options. What that means is the condition can be treated to the point the condition no longer exists. That is typically accomplished but returning the “slipped” vertebra back to its original position.

It’s fair to say that once the condition has occurred once, the individual will be more susceptible to the condition occurring again in the future. That can be avoided by preemptive measures like ongoing chiropractic maintenance adjustments.

What happens with untreated spondylolisthesis?

In almost all cases, spondylolisthesis would not be considered dangerous or life-threatening. Translation: One’s life or health would not be at risk should one decide not to seek any kind of treatment.

Here’s the bottom line. The decision to not get treatment for this condition is usually a “quality of life” decision. If someone is willing and able to manage lower back pain, they can probably live with spondylolisthesis in perpetuity. However, the affected vertebra will likely continue to weaken, causing further slippage and or damage. Ultimately, the associated pain would intensify over time. Acceptance of living with increased pain would likely have to be part of the decision-making process.

The Most Common Causes of Spondylolisthesis?

There are three primary causes of spondylolisthesis. They include:

  • Genetics – people can inherit the train of having thin vertebrae bones, which are prone to wearing down quickly
  • Age – as we age, our skeletal system, especially vertebrae, tends to degenerate due to wear and tear
  • Lifestyle Activity – athletes are susceptible to this condition due to the constant pressure being put on their spines (vertebrae) by jumping, over-extending, and the pounding of running

The Most Common Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

Before discussing the symptoms of spondylolisthesis, you need to understand that the same symptoms would appear with other spine conditions. With that said, the most common symptoms of spondylolisthesis are

  • Radiating lower back pain
  • Shooting pain down one or both legs
  • A burning sensation in the buttocks
  • Leg weakness that leads to walking difficulty
  • Increased pain level when bending or twisting the back
  • Loss of bladders and or bowel control (VERY RARE)

Kinds of Spondylolisthesis

Before a doctor or chiropractor can decide on the proper course of treatment, they will need to diagnose the proper form of spondylolisthesis. Here are some of the most common kinds of the spondylolisthesis condition.

What is dysplastic spondylolisthesis

The condition called dysplastic spondylolisthesis is generally considered a birth defect. It occurs when a baby’s spine fails to form properly during pregnancy. Scoliosis would be considered a dysplastic form of spondylolisthesis.

What is traumatic spondylolisthesis

This would be the proper diagnosis if the condition was caused by a traumatic event (injury). It happens when a blunt force to the spine causes vertebrae to slip out of alignment.

What is isthmic spondylolisthesis?

This form of the condition happens as a result of spondylolysis, which is caused by a break or fracture of a vertebra or vertebrae.

What is degenerative spondylolisthesis?

This form of the condition occurs naturally as people age. It is caused by the degeneration of the spongy discs that serve as cushions between each vertebra. As the discs get thinner, vertebrae can slip.

How Do Doctors/Chiropractors Diagnose Spondylolisthesis?

Since the symptoms related to spondylolisthesis are also common with other back conditions, there is only one way to get a proper diagnosis. That would be through diagnostic imaging (MRI and or X-rays).

What are the Treatments for Spondylolisthesis?

The available treatments for spondylolisthesis can range from non-invasive options like chiropractic care to high-risk invasive options like back surgery. Here are some of the most popular and effective treatment options available.

What is degenerative spondylolisthesis treatment?

Since degenerative spondylolisthesis is a progressive condition that worsens over time, the treatment process can involve a whole range of options, many of which are listed here. Note: Needing surgery for this form of the condition is rare. The available treatments methods for degenerative spondylolisthesis Include:

  • Activity modification
  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Epidural/steroid injections

Modifying activities

This would encompass the activities people do every day. People would want to avoid strenuous exertion, standing/walking too long, sitting in awkward positions, and bending backward. They might also want to focus on getting more rest for their backs and eating better.

Manual chiropractic manipulation

Through a series of manual spine manipulations, a chiropractor might be able to gently move a vertebra back into its proper place. All adjustments could result in pain reduction and more back mobility.

Receiving epidural injections

When severe pain becomes a significant issue, epidural steroid injections can help block the pain. This method works for about 50% of all patients. If it does work, patients can safely get epidurals up to three shots per year.

Getting surgery

If the condition gets to the point of being debilitating, surgery could be an option. A surgical procedure would allow for the vertebra to be placed back into its proper position, which should alleviate pressure on the nerve in question. Note: surgery always comes with health risks, though problems are rare.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Spondylolisthesis

As indicated in the section above, it’s always advisable to avoid back surgery whenever possible. The truth is the effectiveness of back surgery doesn’t always justify the risk of getting it. With that said, there are some nonsurgical options that are worthy of consideration.

Going through physical therapy

A physical therapist can put a patient through a series of special exercises that will help strengthen the abdomen and back muscles. This strengthening should result in stopping vertebra slippage and the reduction of pain.

Taking prescribed pain medication

Managing pain with prescription pain medication is always an option. However, it should only be considered a temporary or intermittent option due to the addictive nature of opiate-based pain medications.

Submitting to corticosteroid injections

This option is a little more invasive, but it can also deliver pain relief for longer periods if it works. It requires the injection of a corticosteroid directly into the affected area.

Is Chiropractic an Effective Way of Treating Spondylolisthesis?

Yes. If spondylolisthesis is treatable at all, chiropractic might well be the best option, and it’s usually effective. A chiropractor’s treatment goals would be

  • Pain relief
  • Realignment of the spine/vertebra
  • Improving the patient’s posture
  • Restoring proper spine function

Ways That Chiropractic Can Help with Spondylolisthesis

The objective would be two-fold. First, a chiropractor would want to deliver pain relief to the patient. Second, they would want to attempt to realign the spine and vertebra in question. They can do this with a series of manual spine adjustments in the targeted area.

How can a chiropractor properly diagnose spondylolisthesis?

The best chance they will have for a proper diagnosis is to rely on diagnostic imaging. That could be accomplished with X-rays or a body scan/MRI.

Chiropractic Care Treatment Options for Spondylolisthesis

At their disposal, a licensed chiropractor should have several adjustment techniques to treat spondylolisthesis. The available options should include spinal and manual adjustments or a flexion-distraction technique.

Tips on How to Manage Spondylolisthesis

If you are dealing with this condition, it would benefit you to know ways you can manage the condition if you plan on avoiding surgery. Here are some tips for you to follow:

  • Be careful about your physical activities
  • Avoid bending, twisting, and putting undue pressure on your spine
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Develop an exercise program that helps strengthen your abdomen and back without stressing your spine

How to Sit with Spondylolisthesis

Since a majority of your time is spent sitting, the use of proper sitting techniques will go a long way toward helping you manage your spondylolisthesis condition. Here are some tips on proper sitting to avoid lower back pressure.

Positioning your spine in a neutral position

Your spine has three (3) natural curves. Sitting in a neutral position requires that you maintain the integrity of those natural curves. The proper neutral position requires that you sit with your neck straight up and your lower back positioned with a slight inward bend.

Creation of a back-strengthening physical therapy/exercise routine

For back-strengthening therapy, you should see a physical therapist. They can help you develop an exercise program that will best suit your circumstances. They will probably recommend options like the McKenzie Method and dynamic stabilization.

Wearing a brace for back support

The value of wearing a brace when you sit is the brace will force you to sit in the proper position. That should help lessen pain and prevent further slippage of the vertebrae.

The proper use of Ergonomic Devices to help you sit properly

Ergonomic chairs for spondylolisthesis are designed to provide excellent lumbar support. These chairs can be a little expensive but are almost always worth the investment.



What is the best treatment for spondylolisthesis?

Chiropractic cause because it is effective and among the least invasive options.

Can spondylitis be cured by a chiropractor?

Yes. It is possible for chiropractic adjustments to get your spine and vertebra back in alignment. That could fix the problem,

What should you not do with spondylolisthesis?

You must avoid physical activities that put pressure on the lower back. That would include heavy lifting and playing high-impact sports.

How can I reverse spondylolisthesis without surgery?

Your best chances of reversing this condition without surgery are to enlist the services of a chiropractor and let them work to realign your body.

Can chiropractic make spondylolisthesis worse?

It’s not likely that working with a chiropractor will worsen the condition unless a mistake is made.

Can chiropractic help lumbar spondylosis?

They can use selective adjustment techniques that can improve a patient’s range of motion and bring about pain relief.

How I cured my spondylolisthesis naturally

Your best chances of a natural cured would be to live a healthy lifestyle with a proper diet, plenty of rest, and the employment of a back-strengthening exercise program,

Does chiropractic help spondylosis?

Spondylosis is an arthritic condition that happens in the back, usually brought about by aging. While there isn’t much a chiropractor can do as a cure, they can make adjustments that relieve pain.

What makes spondylolisthesis worse?

Ignoring the condition while continuing to put undue stress on the lower back.

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