This post is about Spondylolisthesis and Low Back Pain: a Chiropractor Can Help.  Approximately 80% of adults will have low back pain at some time in their lives. Furthermore, it appears that adolescents with low back pain are more likely to have problems as adults. And Spondylolithesis can be the cause of your back pain. Chiropractic treatment is a valuable conservative treatment associated with clinical improvement in patients with acute and chronic Low back pain due to spondylolithesis in various studies. 


What is Spondylolisthesis?


Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra (bone) in the spine moves forward out of the proper position onto the bone below it.There are several types of spondylolisthesis. However, the most common are isthmic, occurring in the young, and degenerative, occurring in the older person.


If you are young, low back pain may be worse with extension (arching back). In older persons, the degenerative (due to “wear and tear”) spondylolisthesis may cause signs of stenosis (narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves).


What is the Cause of Spondylolisthesis?


Although congenital (present from birth) types and destructive (e.g., tuberculosis,cancer) types are possible, they are rare. The isthmic type is due to a problem with the Pars interarticularis (pars).  The pars is  a small segment of bone that joins the facet joints (joint connects two or more bones) in the back of the spine. A defect in this portion of the spine leads to a condition called spondylolysis. This is due either from a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis (spondylolysis) or an elongated (lengthened) pars. The elongated pars is a result from micro (small) fractures that heal with an elongated pars. And stress fractures are more an issue of overuse.  Similarly, a microfracture could be caused by trauma, like getting hit by something or a fall. 

90% of spondylolytic spondylolisthesis occurs at Lumbar spinal vertebral level 5. The spondylolysis type is more likely to become symptomatic in children more than 5 years old. Spondylolisthesis is more common in girls. Sports such as gymnastics, which require repetitive hyperextension (extensive arching of the back), are more likely to cause problems.

There are 4 levels of grading spondylolisthesis. Most grade 1 spondylolisthesis are asymptomatic and stable. Progressive slippage is rare, occurring in only 2% to 3% of patients. Grade 2 spondylolisthesis may be symptomatic, but are considered stable.

There is a good response to chiropractic manipulative treatment with grades 1 or 2. With grade 3 or 4 spondylolisthesis, there is a need for orthopedic/surgical consultation. Additionally, Single-photon emission tomography (SPECT) is often used to distinguish athletic patients who require a brace and rest for several weeks. Spondylolisthesis is primarily a radiographic (x-ray) diagnosis.


Dr. Meiri adjusts the spine


Treatment of Spondylolysis and/or Spondylolisthesis at Meiri Chiropractic


An important point is that Chiropractors do not reduce the slippage of spondylolisthesis. Instead, they address the spinal joints above and below the slipped vertebra to improve motion in the region.  Therefore, your low back pain is relieved by addressing the mechanical and neurological causes of pain around the spondylolisthesis. The pain goes away because function improves and/or normalizes.

Dr. Natalie Meiri will examine you and come up with a treatment plan to get you better. Through regular visits, you can get pain relief and improve your back health with chiropractic manipulative treatments without surgery.  She has treated and helped patients with spondylolysis and/or sponylolisthesis for over 16 years.

“Softer” approaches involving “no rotation” chiropractic manipulative treatments such as flexion-distraction, blocking, and prone (patient face down) drop-table adjusting are available.  Our other therapies, such as soft tissue techniques, therapeutic exercise, electric muscle stimulation, ice/ heat therapies and homeopathic consultations, may also provide relief for your pain. 

Call our office which serves North Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach.  Ask about Spondylolisthesis and Low Back Pain: a Chiropractor Can Help at 561-253-8984.



Thomas Bergman, David Peterson, Chiropractic Technique Principles and Procedures, 5th edition, 2018