Spondylolisthesis Causes and Treatment Options 

 July 18, 2012

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Mechanicsville Virginia Chiropractor – At Stover Chiropractic, P.C., it is not unusual to see spondylolisthesis on x-rays of a patients spine.  Spondylolisthesis is a degenerative condition of the spine in which one vertebral disk slips over the one directly below it, causing a misalignment of the vertebrae. It is a condition most commonly found in the lumbar spine, due to the wear and tear from the presence of subluxations in that this part of the spine. The lumbar spine is more subject to this phenomenon, from having to bear most of the weight of the upper body. As it is a highly flexible part of the spine, with the great range of motion, it is more prone to damage. Symptoms can be practically nonexistent or may show up as severe lower back and/or leg pain. Other symptoms include pain in the buttocks, tightness or weakness in the hamstrings and sciatic pain that radiates down the back of the legs.

There are a number of different forms of spondylolisthesis, each having a different cause. Activities that put greater amounts of pressure on the lower back due to repetitive stress or hyperextension are more likely to cause isthmic spondylolisthesis, a condition most commonly found in those who use their lower back a great deal, such as gymnasts, football players and movers. Traumatic spondylolisthesis may be caused by fractures of the spine due to direct trauma from something such as a car accident. Aging adds to the risk of developing degenerative spondylolisthesis, as the bones and their supporting structures lose fluid and elasticity as part of the normal aging process, making the spine less resilient and more easily damaged. Less common causes of spondylolisthesis are tumors (pathologic spondylolisthesis, which weakens the bones, causing them to slip more easily), birth defects (dysplastic spondylolisthesis) and back surgery.

There are a wide range of treatments for spondylolisthesis, depending on the severity of the condition and how much pain it is causing. Your doctor or chiropractor can recommend an appropriate course of treatment, which may include any of the following:

Rest – Taking a break from the activities that led to the condition is usually the first step toward recovery. The application of ice and/or heat is sometimes also recommended.

Chiropractic adjustments – A chiropractor can use spinal adjustments to realign the spine above and below the spondylolisthesis, which may be contributing to the condition, and adjust associated joints that may have become misaligned. Chiropractic care is a holistic, non-invasive form of treatment that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of spondylolisthesis.

Natural Supplements – Several supplements and herbs are options and may be suggested to help decrease inflammation and reduce pain.

Exercise/physiotherapy – Exercises that involve strengthening the abdominal muscles and the muscles that support the spine can be useful in taking pressure off the lower back, and stretching the hamstrings can help alleviate the tightness and pain in the lower back caused by spondylolisthesis.

Surgery – In severe cases of spondylolisthesis, spinal fusion surgery may be necessary if pain has not been alleviated after six months using other forms of treatment.

If you think you may have spondylolisthesis, contact your physician or chiropractor as soon as possible so as to avoid the condition becoming any worse. With some appropriate therapeutic treatments, in time, you can once again be pain-free and resume your normal activities.  Please give us a call if you have any questions – 804-559-1100

Stover Chiropractic, P.C.

Real. Simple. Healthcare.




We are located at 9097 Atlee Station Road in Mechanicsville, Virginia, 23111.  This is a Hanover county address, but we are minutes from Glenn Allen, Innsbrook, Sandston, and Varina.  We also serve many people from King William and New Kent Counties.  Our close proximity to I295 means we are very easy to reach from most places in the Richmond Metro area.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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