Warning: What Everybody Ought to Know about Spondylolisthesis

Warning: What Everybody Ought to Know about Spondylolisthesis

With a lot of things in life, if you don’t do anything about it, sometimes it can get worse and even harder to fix. For example, doing the dishes, mowing your lawn, or organizing your email. Daily attention is necessary for all of those things; the same goes for back pain, and more specifically, spondylolisthesis. That’s why we’re going to tell you everything you need to know from prevention to treatment for spondylolisthesis so that you can easily get rid of your pain and get back to working on the other things in life that can’t go undone (your dishes).


What is spondylolisthesis 

Spondylolisthesis (A very long word, we know. If you were wondering, it’s pronounced spohn-di-low-less-THEE-sis) is yet another condition that might be causing your back pain. Anywhere from five to ten percent of people in the US suffer from it. What exactly is it? Well, it’s a spinal condition that causes one of the vertebrae, most commonly in your lumbar spine, to slip forward onto the bone beneath it, causing you a lot of pain. Another condition, called retrolisthesis (reh-trow-luhs-THEE-suhs, a little easier to say) is the same thing but your vertebrae slips backward instead of forward. 



Symptoms and Causes of spondylolisthesis

Some causes that make you more at risk for spondylolisthesis include three major categories: athletics, genetics, and age. 

Athletics: Those who do gymnastics or play football are more likely to develop spondylolisthesis, especially for children and teens who play these sports. The vertebrae might slip during a growth spurt. 

Genetics: Some are born more likely to develop spondylolisthesis because a part of their vertetra (the pars interarticularis) is thinner than normal, which is called isthmic spondylolisthesis. Degenerative spondylolisthesis might also be passed down from genetics. 

Age: Like a lot of spinal issues, spondylolisthesis is more common after age 50 because of normal wear and tear on the spine.


Common symptoms:

  • Chronic or persistent lower back pain
  • Muscle tension or stiffness in your back and legs, especially the hamstrings and buttocks
  • Lower back tenderness
  • Thigh pain


Treatment for spondylolisthesis

Some nonsurgical treatments are wearing a back brace, participating in physical therapy, OTC pain medication, or epidural steroid injections. If your spondylolisthesis hasn’t developed very far, these nonsurgical treatments are usually recommended before surgical treatments.

Exercises for spondylolisthesis

Here are a few exercises your physical therapist might recommend (do about 15 of each and slowly work up to more repetitions):

  • A Pelvic tilt. Lie on your back with your knees bent and press the small of your back to the ground. 
  • Crunches. Put your arms across your chest and do small crunches while keeping the small of your back flush with the ground.
  • Pelvic tilt and lift one knee up. Keeping the small of your back flush with the ground, lift one knee up at a time.
  • Pelvic tilt and lift both knees up. Keeping the small of your back flush with the ground, lift both knees up at once.


Exercises to avoid with spondylolisthesis

There are also a few exercises and daily activities you should avoid such as reaching up to grab anything or any exercising that involves reaching up to the sky. You should also avoid the cobra or sphynx pose in yoga (might cause your disc to slip further). Avoid lifting heavy objects, bending, twisting, or any other activity that causes stress on your lumbar spine (lower back). 


Can you use the Chirp Wheel with spondylolisthesis?

We recommend you ask your doctor before rolling on the Chirp Wheel with spondylolisthesis or retrolisthesis. Each case is unique and your doctor will know what is best for you. 







Alfieri A, Gazzeri R, Prell J, Röllinghoff M. The current management of lumbar spondylolisthesis. J Neurosurg Sci. 2013 Jun;57(2):103-13. PMID: 23676859.

Bob & Brad. (2016, February 11). Spondylolisthesis: 4 exercises to reduce pain (demo on real patient). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1FrBPVCtgE 

Cleveland Clinic (2021). Spondylolisthesis. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10302-spondylolisthesis 

Moore, K. (2018, September 29). Spondylolisthesis. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/spondylolisthesis

OrthoInfo (2021). Spondylolisthesis. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/spondylolysis-and-spondylolisthesis/

Rodts, M. (2021). Spondylolisthesis: treatment, restrictions, bracing, medication. Retrieved from https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/spondylolisthesis/spondylolisthesis-treatment-restrictions-bracing#:~:text=Most%20patients%20with%20spondylolisthesis%20should,%2C%20competitive%20swimming%2C%20and%20diving.