The human spine (also known as the backbone or, more properly, the vertebral column) is made up of numerous small bones called vertebrae. When a vertebra is damaged or displaced, the knock-on effects can have serious consequences for the health of the entire back and even of the body as a whole.
One good example of this is a condition called spondylolisthesis.
What is spondylolisthesis?
Spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips out of place so that it is no longer aligned with the rest of the spine. This can happen for a number of reasons: some people are born with defects that lead to spondylolisthesis, but it can also be caused by a blow to the spine, a tumour, and the body’s natural ageing process, among other things.
Spondylolisthesis usually occurs in the lower (lumbar) spine, although it can happen further up too.
So, spondylolisthesis is the same as a slipped disc?
No. The phrase ‘slipped disc’ is perhaps a little misleading – it really has nothing to with vertebrae slipping out of place. Rather, a slipped disc occurs when one of the ‘discs’ that sit in between your vertebrae becomes ruptured. If this happens, the nucleus pulposus (a gel-like substance inside each disc) may bulge out through the wall of the disc, putting pressure on your nerves and resulting in pain.
This phenomenon is unrelated to spondylolisthesis, which affects the vertebrae rather than the discs that separate them.
Spondylolisthesis sufferers may notice some or all of the following symptoms:
- Back pain and/or stiffness
- Tightness of the leg muscles
- Sciatica (pain or discomfort of the legs and/or buttocks)
- Curvature of the spine (see below)
That being said, some people with spondylolisthesis don’t notice any symptoms at all.
Spondylolisthesis and scoliosis – what’s the connection?
As noted above, one possible outcome of spondylolisthesis is a curve in one’s spine. Scoliosis
(a sideways curve) or hyperkyphosis
(a forward curve) may develop due to the weakening of the backbone that occurs when a vertebrae moves out of place.
Scoliosis and hyperkyphosis can themselves lead to a number of health issues, including:
- Back pain
- Reduced mobility and/or flexibility
- Compromised breathing
A curved spine can also have visible effects (e.g. uneven shoulders, prominent ribcage), which in turn may result in reduced self-esteem and a negative body image.
Treating scoliosis and spondylolisthesis
Whether your spine is curved as a result of spondylolisthesis or another underlying condition, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London can help you. Our exercise-based ScolioGold
treatment programme has been fine-tuned to specifically address the needs of scoliosis and hyperkyphosis sufferers, and the results we achieve are consistently outstanding.
We use a variety of physiotherapy methods to treat those suffering from spondylolisthesis, such as:
- Schroth Method
- Rigo-Schroth Method
- FITS Method
- PNF Technique
- SEAS Method
to read about all the different methods we use to treat our patients’ spinal conditions.
For more information about our treatment courses, or to book an initial session with one of our consultants, please contact us today.