Spondylolisthesis is a condition that occurs when one vertebra in the spine slips out of position and slides forward over the vertebra below it. This can happen anywhere in the spine but most commonly affects the lower back (lumbar spine).


There are several types of spondylolisthesis, including:


  • Congenital spondylolisthesis: This type is present at birth and is caused by an abnormality in the development of the spine.
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis: This type is caused by a defect in a part of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis, which can be caused by repetitive stress or trauma.
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis: This type occurs as a result of age-related wear and tear on the spine, such as degeneration of the spinal discs and facet joints.
  • Traumatic spondylolisthesis: This type is caused by a sudden injury to the spine, such as a fall or car accident.
  • Spondylolisthesis can cause a range of symptoms, including lower back pain, leg pain or weakness, numbness or tingling in the legs, and difficulty standing or walking. Treatment options for spondylolisthesis depend on the severity of the condition and may include physical therapy, medication, bracing, or surgery.


What Causes Spondylolisthesis?


There are several different causes of spondylolisthesis, but the most common is a fracture in the vertebrae known as a stress fracture. This type of fracture is often caused by repetitive stress on the spine, such as in athletes who participate in high-impact sports or weightlifting.


Another cause of spondylolisthesis is degenerative changes in the spine due to aging. As the spinal discs in the spine begin to wear down, they can no longer support the vertebrae as well, leading to slippage. Other possible causes of spondylolisthesis include congenital defects in the spine, tumors or infections in the spine, or trauma to the spine.


Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

The symptoms of spondylolisthesis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all, while others may have significant pain and discomfort.


Common symptoms of spondylolisthesis include:

  • Lower back pain that is worse when standing or walking
  • Pain in the buttocks or thighs
  • Stiffness in the lower back
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (in severe cases)
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Spondylolisthesis


If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of spondylolisthesis, it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Your doctor may perform a physical exam and take x-rays or other imaging tests to determine the extent of the slippage.


Treatment for spondylolisthesis will depend on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, rest and physical therapy may be enough to alleviate the symptoms. However, in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to stabilize the spine and prevent further slippage.


A physiotherapist can help with Spondylolisthesis by creating a personalized treatment plan that focuses on reducing pain, improving range of motion, strengthening muscles, and enhancing the overall function of the affected area.


Here are some ways a physiotherapist can help:

  • Pain management: A physiotherapist can use techniques like ice/heat therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Manual therapy: Manual therapy techniques such as massage, joint mobilization, and stretching can help reduce muscle tension and improve joint mobility.
  • Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can help build strength in the muscles around the affected area, which can help reduce pain and improve overall function.
  • Core stability exercises: Core stability exercises can help improve posture, reduce strain on the back, and prevent further injury.
  • Education: A physiotherapist can provide education on proper body mechanics, posture, and ergonomics to help prevent future episodes of Spondylolisthesis.


It’s important to note that the treatment plan will depend on the severity of the Spondylolisthesis and the individual’s specific needs. A physiotherapist will work with the patient to develop a plan that is tailored to their unique situation. You may contact us at 416-444-4800 or email us at reception@physiomobillity.ca

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We remain focused on our quality of care & our continued commitment to helping our patients feel their best. For further assistance, you can contact us at 416-444-4800 during our opening hours. 

The Physiomobility Team