What is Spondylolisthesis

January 30th, 2011

Medical Defination

Spondylolisthesis is the medical condition wherein one of the vertebras of the patient’s spine shifts forward or backward in regards with the adjoining vertebras. This displacement can be of a single vertebra or the whole vertebral column.



Spine Structure

A hale and hearty spine is flexible. It is capable of moving, rotating, bending and extending. The high flexibility is because of the spine structure. Here the vertebrae are piled one of the other. The vertebrae are the bones that protect the spinal chord.  They are held intact with the support of muscles, discs, joints and ligaments. All of them together make it possible for a spine to move in different planes. When any of the vertebra or the vertebral column slips from its original position due to any reason, the patient suffers from the condition called Spondylolisthesis.

Types Of Spondylolisthesis

This medical state is broadly categorized in to two types; Anterolisthesis and Retrolisthesis.

In the state of Anterolisthesis, the upper portion of the vertebral body moves forward as compared to the rest of the lower vertebral body. The seriousness of the problem can be measured according to the amount of the slippage. It is measured by grading it on the scale of 1-4. For instance, grade1 slippage is considered to be mild while grade 4 displacement is serious and cannot be left unattended.

Retrolisthesis is the state where the vertebral body is displaced backwards in respect to the adjoining structure.

Symptoms Of Spondylolisthesis

There are no direct symptoms associated with this medical state. The symptoms are so generalised that many people who have this condition do not even know it. Moreover, the people knowing that they have this issue do not find them selves ill or suffering.

However, the patient having spondylolisthesis may occasionally suffer from walking abnormalities. He/she may complain of constant pain is lower back. Pain in leg is also very common in the people with this condition. Such muscle pain exaggerates with the physical activity and mellows down on taking rest. If the problem becomes severe, the patient might face postural abnormalities.

Causes Of Spondylolisthesis

There can be several major causes behind this medical problem.

  1. The person may have been born with it. This condition is called congenital spondylolisthesis.
  2. If the person is actively engaged in sports like gymnastics, weight lifting, soccer, he/she is quite vulnerable to this condition. Such sports involve hyperextension of the spine and thus put it at the risk of spondylolisthesis.
  3. There is a condition when the new bones begin to grow. They work like the pars heals. As a result, the pars begin to stretch. Thus the elongated pars push the vertebra forward resulting in this condition.
  4. The body becomes vulnerable to this condition with the growing age. As the person grow old, his bones become week and hence more susceptible to the injuries.

The ailment is though problematic but curable. But all you have to do is take a good care of your self.

Pinched Nerve in Back

February 6th, 2011

A nerve is a cord that carries messages throughout the body from one organ to the brain. These are the sensory cords which run around the body frame. The Nervous System is on the upper region of the human body right after the brain as eventually all the messages are sent to the brain so as to interpret the commands by different parts of the body. These nerves are wrapped and run around bones or even under the muscles, thus form a complicated framework in the body.

The cluster of nerves is situated on the posterior side that is the back bone as the nervous system totally relates with spinal cord. Sometimes one of these nerves is pressed and pinched under the vertebrae or other bones of the body. This might happen due to disturbed movement of bones which are certainly unusual. Spondylolisthesis is a disease in which forward or backward movement of the vertebrae takes place of the vertebral column. This movement might in some case pinch and press one of the nerves as well. This causes an inflammation and extreme pain to the person who suffers from this pinched nerve condition.

Spinal Stenosis is a condition in which nerves become narrow and reduces the speed of the flow of blood to the respective organ. This condition may also become the cause of pinching of the nerve as the thin nerve comes under the bones or other body muscles.

However, pinched nerve can be treated with massage and exercises as different movement effect the positioning of the bones and thus release the nerve. This provides relief from pain to the person and gives a relaxation in the body. A common disease known as Sciatica is also due to the pinching of the Sciatic Nerve that is known to be the largest nerve in the body. This is also treated by thigh massages and different exercises.

Upper Back Pain between Shoulder Blades

January 29th, 2011

Shoulder blades or Scapula are the blade like bone structures present on the shoulder. They may also be regarded as the shoulder bones. A pain might occur in these bones due to extreme movements of hands and arms. But can also be due to some other causes such as cardiovascular problems or even back pain problems.

Pain in back can be of three types; the Upper Back Pain, the Mid Back Pain and the Lower Back Pain. The pain differs from each other due to the positioning of the vertebrae in the spine at the back. If there is some disturbances in the thoracic vertebrae than the pain is found in the upper back region whereas when the disturbance occurs in the lumbar or sacrum vertebrae the pain is found in the lower region of back.

Pain in shoulder blades can be dangerous as it is also counted as one of the symptoms of heart attack. When heart causes disturbances then the first organ it effects on is the shoulder. Therefore whenever a person feels pain in shoulder he must go and consult a doctor to diagnose the actual cause behind the pain however sometimes the pain can be due to vertebral disturbance as well. When the thoracic vertebrae are slipped or moved towards each other, they cause extreme back pain and also affect the shoulder blades as well because they are directly fused with the upper portion of the back that is the thoracic vertebrae.

There are some shoulder exercises that can be performed to reduce the pain and give a long lasting relief to the patient. Other than this many pain killers and other medicines such as steroids are also given to the patients for minimizing the intensity of the pain but that for sure gives a timely effect to the patient.

Sciatic Nerve Pain

January 29th, 2011

The Sciatic nerve refers to a set of symptoms usually pain resulting from something pressing against the sciatic nerve that is the largest nerve in the body causing irritation or inflammation of the nerve. The condition results in pain that radiates from the lower back all the way down to the buttocks and the lower leg. While some people experience pain, others feel a pinching, tingling, weakness or numbness in the buttock radiating down to the leg.

A sciatic nerve is most commonly caused by a herniated disc also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc which causes compression of the spine, resulting in inflammation or the nerve being pinched. The condition usually occurs in only one side of the body and is aggravated by prolonged sitting, standing, bending, lifting and even coughing or sneezing.

Although most cases of sciatica are not serious and don’t require surgery and can be resolved within a few weeks. Sciatica pain that is chronic and sometimes severe might be caused by some other underlying disease or back disorder and requires further diagnosis in order for the treatment to be directed at the root cause of the pain.

The primary treatment of sciatic nerve pain is usually bed rest, in order to allow the inflamed nerve to subside, also taking anti-inflammation or pain relieving medicine, or anesthetic agents can be injected into the area around the spinal cord. Physical therapy such as massages and chiropractic treatment may be recommended by doctors.

Muscle strengthening exercises like swimming, yoga and pilates and stretching exercises are also useful in order to allow a patient to return to full activity and prevent future occurrences. Learning good posture, sitting upright preferably with a good back support, standing straight, bending properly and with care, lifting with your knees and not your back, and sleeping on a firm mattress can all help prevent the sciatica condition.

Herniated Disc

January 29th, 2011

A herniated disc, also known as a “slipped disc” or ruptured disc is a medical condition relating to one of the many possible causes of back pain or problems. Our spine (backbone) is made up of vertebrae (bones) and discs. Discs are the soft spongy cushions that sit between each vertebrae of the spine. The discs allow your spine to move and be flexible and act as shock absorbers when they are healthy.

However, due to general wear and tear and perhaps sometimes from an injury, a disc may get damaged and bulge out or break open pressing on the nerves around the back causing inflammation, irritation and sometimes pain, this is called a herniated disc.

A herniated disc can be caused in any part of your spine. But most commonly a herniated disc affects the lower back (lumbar spine), although it can also be in the neck (cervical spine) and more rarely in the upper back (thoracic spine).

As mentioned earlier, a herniated disc is most commonly caused by general wear and tear, as you age, your discs dry out and aren’t as flexible to allow you to easily move.

Injury to the back may cause tiny tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc, forcing it to bulge or break open or break into pieces. When a herniated disc presses on the nerve roots, it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the area of the body where the nerve travels.

Treatment for a herniated disc recommended by doctors is most often taking anti-inflammation and pain relieving medicines that can also be injected into your back, stretching of the spine by your doctor or a chiropractor, and sometimes surgery is advised in severe conditions. If the pain persists for more than a few months, despite getting normal treatment, it might be due to some underlying back disease or another back disorder.

Sciatic Nerve

January 29th, 2011

The Sciatic Nerve is the longest nerve in the body, extending from the lumbar portion of the spinal cord (in the lower back) down to the legs. It is responsible for relaying sensations and movement impulses between the foot/leg/hip and the brain. Pain resulting from the irritation of the sciatic nerve, usually felt at the back of the thigh, is known as sciatica. The term Sciatica describes the symptoms of leg pain and possibly tingling, numbness or weakness originated in the low back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of the leg. And the leg pain is usually much worse than the back pain.

Sciatica is often characterized by symptoms such as pain on one side of the buttock or in one leg that is worse when sitting, burning or tingling down the leg, weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot, a constant pain on one side of the rear, or a sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk. The patient’s pain and specific sciatica symptoms can usually be traced to where the injured/irritated nerve originates in the lower back.

Sciatica occurs most frequently in people between 30 and 50 years of age. Often a particular event or injury does not cause sciatica, but rather the general wear and tears on the structure of the lower spine over time tend to develop Sciatica. The most common cause of sciatica is a herniated spinal disc, directly pressing on the nerve. Other conditions, such as spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or piriformis syndrome can also cause sciatica symptoms by irritating or inflaming the nerve.

Treatment is initially aimed at reducing the irritation or inflammation associated with sciatica. Therefore rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and muscle relaxers are mostly recommended. Once the pain subsides, exercise and physical therapy is helpful. However, if the conditions do not improve after three months surgery could be advised.

How to Reduce Sciatic Nerve Pain

January 29th, 2011

Sciatic Nerve is the longest nerve of the body. When this nerve is pinched due to any reason it produces a tingling pain and may also be increased up to a radiating inflammation which can cause numbness in the back till the lower legs. The worst thing of all is when the person doesn’t even know why he is suffering from the pain and the accurate reason behind the leg or the thigh pain. The probability is always more towards the pinching of the sciatic nerve.

As soon as you discover pain in your lower back, near buttocks or in legs, the first and the foremost thing you need to do is visit a physiotherapist or an orthopedic specialist. They are going to examine your pain and inform you about the actual cause of pain. As soon as you find the reason for the pain carry out the remedial tasks so as to relieve the pain.

There are some primary things you shall take care of when you are suffering from a sciatic nerve pain. These include the sleeping posture, lifting of heavy objects, walking rate and being careful with other physical activities. If these things are not considered to be taken care of properly and carefully, the pain may become worse and may also even require a surgery as a result of which the treatment might get risky.

The pain may also be treated at home without any need of doctor! Just to do is, avoid bending and lifting heavy objects, applying hot and cold packs on the lower back and upper legs. Mineral ice is effective enough for this purpose. In such condition, patient should prevent himself to have constipation and for that reason the diet of the patient shall be rich in fiber and the amount of fruits and vegetables shall be increased enough in the diet.

Exercises for Low Back Pain

January 29th, 2011

Back Pain is a common complaint amongst most of the people in different areas of the world. It makes really uncomfortable for the person suffering from back pain, to carry out different daily routine works. However, any person going through the pain would not tend to move along with it for long or even a less period of time and would for sure find out some way to get through with it. One should whether go to a doctor or see a physiotherapy expert to cope up with the problem.

But there are some easy exercises with which you can easily treat the pain and reduce it up to a major margin. The best treatment for the back pain is considered as the back stretching and body stretching exercises. These exercises can give an effective relief to the patient without any hap hazard.

The things that should be kept in mind about the back pain exercises before performing them are the duration of the exercise and how often to perform the exercise. Usually the people suffering from back pain are prescribed to perform these exercises once or twice each day. The more you do the exercises the sooner you will get the relief. However, the exercising postures and exercises are varied according to the point of pain.

Different exercises are meant for pain in different areas of the back. For instance, the lower back pain may be relieved by the low back stretches, the cat stretch or the cobra stretch exercises while the sciatic nerve pain can be relieved through the pelvic tilt or the basic twist. Other things that shall be taken care of while doing the exercise are the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. The respiratory rate is an important factor of exercise. When to breathe in and when to take the breath out depends upon the performance of postures in a particular exercise.

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

January 27th, 2011

Spondylolisthesis or Spondylolysis is a disorder of backbone or the vertebral column. It refers to the displacement or movement of the vertebrae of the vertebral column. Particularly Spondylolysis occurs when there is a defect or an injury in the pars interarticularis which are the facet joints between each of the vertebrae.

Spondylolysis is basically a result of Isthmic Spondylolisthesis. Isthmic Spondylolisthesis is the type of spondylolisthesis in which there is an injury that occurs in the vertebrae or the joints between the vertebrae.

At many places Spondylolisthesis and Spondylolysis are referred with the same definition; however it is a misconception of defining both the terms with the same explanation.

Spondylolisthesis is a medical condition in which the vertebrae of the vertebral column slip and slide over one another and cause chronic pain in back due to these movements, whereas, Spondylolysis is another medical condition in which the pars interarticularis are defected and or injured.

Spondylolysis is actually a condition which occurs after Spondylolisthesis. As the bones move forward and backward towards one another, they even slip and glide over each other. This causes rough sliding on the ligaments and facet joints which are present between each of the vertebrae and thus they are gradually injured and inflamed. This is known as Spondylolysis or may even be referred as Isthmic Spondylolisthesis.

Treatment for Spondylolysis may be operative or non-operative. As a matter of fact the non-operative treatments are always preferably advised to the patients. These include medicines, exercises and massages. There are many pain killers and steroids that can be orally taken by the patient to reduce the intensity of pain, but they certainly provide temporary relief to the patient.

Other than this exercises and massages with hot and cold packs can also be done on the back of the patient. This provides relief to the patient as the heat penetrates inside the muscles and the tissues of the back and give out a soothing relaxation.

Many back stretching exercises are also prescribed to the patient as physiotherapy is the best cure for back pain. These can be sit-ups or even Chinese and Indian Yoga. This not only provides relief to the back but also give a relaxing sensation to mind. Stretching the back brings flexibility in the muscles, tissues and nerves which are fused with the backbone. If these treatments do not show positive and well results in the condition of the disease then surgery is opted as the secondary method of treatment.

Pathological Spondylolisthesis

January 25th, 2011

Spondolylolithesis is a back disorder that occurs when a spinal disc vertebrae slips forward in relation to the vertebrae below. The forward slippage may be caused by a bone defect of the spine, particularly in the pars interarticularis called the pars defect.

Other causes of this syndrome would be due to malformation of the lumbosacral junction (the small of the back and the back portion of the pelvis) with small, incompetent facet joints, which could be congenital (inborn) referred to as Dysplastic Spondolylolithesis or might occur during adolescence due to a fracture or injury to one of the bones of the spine from any sports related activities such as weight lifting, running, swimming or football resulting to a person having Isthmic Spondolylolithesis .

However, a pars defect may be present without the slippage, which is called a Spondylolisis; most likely the precursor of the forward slippage leading to Spondolylolithesis.

There are five major types of Spondolylolithesis as categorized by the Wiltse classification system: Dysplatic or Congenital, Isthmic, Denegrative, Traumatic, and Pathological. The proper diagnosis and identification of the type or category of Spondolylolithesis is important to understand as well as the severity of the slippage which is divided into 5 grades before the appropriate treatment for the condition can be advised.

The Meyerding grading system is commonly used to classify the severity of the slippage. Grade 1 is 0-25%, Grade 2 is 25-50%, Grade 3 is 50-75%, Grade 4 is 75-100%, and Grade 5 is over 100% when the vertebra completely dislocates from the supporting vertebra.

Other causes of Spondolylolithesis could be due to aging, the general wear and tear of the bones, tissues, muscles and ligaments of the spine referred to as Degenerative Spondolylolithesis, or after a major accident or trauma to the back resulting in a condition called Traumatic Spondolylolithesis, and/or some underlying diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, tumor or cancer of the spine.

The last type of Spondolylolithesis, which is also the rarest, is called the Pathological Spondolylolithesis. This type of Spondolylolithesis occurs due to damage to the posterior elements from metastases (cancer cells that spread to other parts of the body and cause tumors) or metabolic bone diseases. This type has been reported in cases of Paget’s diseases of bone (named after Sir James Paget, a British surgeon who described a chronic disorder that typically results in enlarged and deformed bones), tuberculosis (a deadly infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs but can spread to other parts of the body), giant cell tumors, and tumor metastases. Furthermore, Paget’s diseases of the bones can cause bones to weaken, resulting in pain, arthritis, deformities and fractures,

Treatment of Spondolylolithesis may vary widely depending on the type, severity and symptoms of the condition. Symptoms could range from a patient experiencing no pain, to mild or acute back, or leg pain, muscle spasms, tightening of the hamstrings, and or an abnormal gait or limp. Conservative treatment of Spondolylolithesis consists of activity modification accompanied with bed rest, pharmacological intervention by recommending anti-inflammatory or pain relieving medicines, physical therapy consultation and a chiropractic treatment. If the symptoms still persists after following the conservative treatment and mostly for severe and rare cases of Spondolylolithesis, surgical treatment may be the last option. Spinal surgery such as posterolateral fusion or spinal fusion (fusion in-situ) to directly repair the pars defect or for a slippage greater than 50% of the width of the adjacent vertebral body, and fusion with implants may be required to stop further slippage and provide relief from the symptoms. In some cases, fusion with decompression also called a laminectomy may be suggested.

  • Recent Posts