Spondylolisthesis is a relatively common condition (up to 6% of people have it) affecting the low back. It occurs when one of your vertebrae slides forward on the vertebra below. You lose the normal alignment of the spinal column because you’ve lost the integrity of the joints holding the spinal bones together.
The most common symptom of this condition is achy type pain. The exceptions are the degenerative, traumatic and pathologic types of spondylolisthesis. There are 2 types of pain seen in cases of spondylolisthesis. One is a sciatic type of pain with radiation (spread) to the buttock, back of the thigh and calf. This is due to stenosis of the lateral recess (the area of the spine where the nerve exits).
The second pain present is claudication type pain. While claudication means limping, the pain is generally related to activity, walking or prolonged standing. The pain in these cases is located in the back, buttocks, thighs or calves. It improves with rest, either sitting or lying down.
Initially, the best treatment is conservative in nature and is based on the specifics of the case and the symptoms presented. The basic format for treating a case of spondylolisthesis and getting low back pain relief is much like other painful structural problems: rest, cold/hot packs to the area of greatest discomfort, wearing a hyperextension brace, stretching and exercising, and chiropractic manipulation.
Based on a study done on a USMC veteran, chiropractic care is the standard for conservative treatment. “As with certain types of athletes, military personnel involved in parachuting and related physical demands may have a higher incidence of lumbar spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. Conservative management is generally considered to be the standard of care and should be explored in its various forms for symptomatic patients who present without neurologic deficits and with spondylolisthesis below grade III.”