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Isthmic Spondylolisthesis a Common Problem

By Debra Rodzinak

A fracture that occurs in the lower back, this condition may be hard to pronounce but it is found to be fairly common in adolescent athletes.  So what exactly is "isthmic spondylolisthesis" and how can it be treated?

Anatomy Lesson

The joints that are located at the back of the spine are connected by very thin segments of bone called the isthmus.  This delicate sliver of bone can be easily fractured.  These small fractures are called isthmic spondylolisthesis.  Often, this condition can lead to the vertebrae slipping which may or may not cause immediate pain.

The lumbar spine is the lowest part of the spine.  Isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs at the very bottom of the spine in the lumbar region.  Many young athletes develop this type of back injury due to repeated movements.

Symptoms of Isthmic Spondylolisthesis

Often, patients can develop isthmic spondylolisthesis and not know that they have fractured their isthmus.  A deep ache in the lower back is felt and can become worse if the patient has to bend backward, stand, or walk.  The hamstrings may also be tight.

Specific pain can develop in the lower back if the vertebrae slip forward on one another.  The pain is graded on a scale from 1 to 4.

Numbness, specific pain, or leg weakness can also result if a nerve root is pinched between two slipped vertebrae.  A thorough exam by a qualified chiropractic doctor can alert patients if they have developed isthmic spondylolisthesis.

Treatments for Isthmic Spondylolisthesis

For patients who do not want to rush into back surgery, there are several non-surgical options available such as heat and cold therapy, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, and chiropractic treatments.

Alternating heat and cold can help ease the pain and increase blood flow to the isthmus which is notorious for not having a good supply of nutrient-rich blood.  However, once a fracture occurs, cold has been found to be more beneficial for pain relief.

Physical therapy can give patients relief by stretching particular muscle groups and strengthening surrounding muscles to support areas that have been injured.  Often combined with steroid injections to the site, physical therapy is often recommended before surgical options are discussed.

Chiropractic treatments can help patients find pain relief by realigning the vertebrae that have slipped out of place. If a nerve is being compressed causing pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs, a spinal adjustment is often the best way to release the pressure on the pinched or compressed nerve.

If you have pain in your lower back and have been diagnosed with isthmic spondylolisthesis, come to The Joint for a drug free, natural path to pain relief.  With no pesky insurance forms to fill out or appointment times to remember, The Joint makes finding pain relief for isthmic spondylolisthesis easy and stress free. 


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