Best Practices & Treatment Options For Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is defined as forward translation of one vertebral body over the vertebra below. Although spondylolisthesis is often asymptomatic (without symptoms), it is one of the most common underlying causes of persistent low back pain among children and adolescents. Spondylolisthesis can usually be managed with conservative care; however, surgery is indicated for patients with high-grade slippage or an increasing neurologic deficit.

We have worked with many patients over the years with spondylolisthesis and want to help you feel your best and avoid surgery. Dr. Natalie Cordova has put together a video to help you learn the best practices in helping your condition.

If, based on your x-ray findings, your doctor determines you have a spondylolisthesis, they will let you know how bad it is by assigning it a "grade." A diagram demonstrating the various grades associated with spondylolisthesis is indicated below. It's important to realize that even if you have a mild (Grade 1) level, your condition can become worse without changes in activities on your part.


The Following Activities Are Good For Patients With Spondylolisthesis:

  • Chiropractic care
  • Losing belly fat
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Strengthening your core
  • Walking
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Partial abdominal curls
  • Recumbent bike
  • Deadlift using a hex bar
  • Abdominal bracing
  • Side planks
  • Good posture
  • The Following Activities Are Bad For Patients With Spondylolisthesis:

  • Laying on your belly
  • Superman exercises
  • Cat - Cow exercises
  • Sleeping on your stomach
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Heavy bench press
  • Back extension
  • Deadlifts
  • Heavy back squats
  • Heavy overhead weightlifting
  • Golf (due to rotation)
  • Tennis (due to rotation)
  • Yoga moves involving twisting
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Abdominal oblique exercises
  • Diagnosing Spondylolisthesis

    Advanced imaging may be necessary to properly diagnose spondylolisthesis. This condition cannot be diagnosed with just an examination. X-ray studies are needed at a minimum. This is one of many reasons why CORE Chiropractic looks to evaluate our patients with x-ray examinations prior to beginning chiropractic care.

    Treatment Considerations For Patients Diagnosed With Spondylolisthesis

    There are a few differences patients with spondylolisthesis will experience in our office compared to patients that do not have this condition.

    Chiropractic adjustments - We will avoid twisting movements of your lower back and minimize rotation in the neck. We may utilize a drop table or a handheld instrument (referred to as an Activator) to perform your chiropractic adjustments to avoid twisting. 

    Electrical Stimulation - if you come to our office dealing with inflammation and pain, we may utilize electrical stimulation and ice to help you. This therapy is often performed with the patient face down on the therapy table. Patients with spondylolisthesis will have this therapy performed while laying face up with support under the knees. 

    Spinal Decompression - Our spinal decompression tables have 21 different protocols we can use when treating our patients. Patients with spondylolisthesis do best with a sustained traction or pull. While other protocols will have the machine pull, retract, and pull again, patients with this condition do best when the machine pulls and then stays in the same position during a treatment session. 

    Recommended Exercises To Support Spondylolisthesis