Recently Diagnosed with Grade 3 Anterolisthesis of L5-S1, Any Advice Greatly Appreciated
I am a 35 year old male, 5'8", 150 lbs. I'm a former smoker, and I smoked from when I was 18 until I was 28. Around the same time I quit smoking I also started to care more about my health. I started getting active with yoga and biking. For the past two years, I've been especially active with yoga, and spinning classes. The office where I work has a gym, and I was doing spin class twice a week. I would also do yoga at the gym, and then also outside of the office, and was averaging 3 yoga classes per week. I was even passionate enough about yoga that as of about 5 months ago, I was enrolled in yoga instructor training.
So, you can imagine that I was pretty devastated when I found out about 4 months ago that I have a grade 3 anterolisthesis of my L5-S1 vertebrae. I had been having some dull lower back pain that had gone on for about 6 months, and my doctor suggested that I get an X-ray. This is the actual impression from the radiologist:
"Impression: Grade 3 anterolisthesis of L5 on S1 with questionable pars defects at L5-S1. There is loss of vertebral body height at L5 with degenerative changes at L5-S1."
After that I pushed for an MRI, and this is the impression from that:
"1. GRADE 3 SPONDYLOLISTHESIS OF THE L5-S1 LEVEL WITH BILATERAL SEVERE NEURAL FORAMINAL ENCROACHMENT. MILD SPINAL STENOSIS AT THIS LEVEL.
2. MILD DEGENERATIVE CHANGES OF THE MID AND LOWER LUMBAR SPINE. SMALL DISC PROTRUSION AT L4-5 WITH MILD RIGHT LATERAL RECESS AND RIGHT NEURAL FORAMINAL ENCROACHMENT AT THIS LEVEL."
My PCP, who ordered the x-ray, and whom I trust very much, referred me to an excellent physical therapist. This physical therapist has a very conservative approach (which I like), and he convinced me to stop yoga entirely, as well as spinning. I started doing physical therapy exercises focused on building core strength (which I sort of already had), and stretching my very tight hip flexors. At this time, my pain was actually pretty minor, and was more like a tightness and fatigue in my lower back.
The first spinal specialist I saw, basically had the attitude that since my pain wasn't that bad, that I could pretty much continue with my normal activities. I was disappointed with this assessment, because my first physical therapist showed me that I can't safely do twisting and back bending poses in yoga. This specialist ended the appointment by giving me a pamphlet with "Exercises for a Healthy Back", that had a number of exercises that I knew I shouldn't be doing.
I went to a second specialist who was much better. She took time to listen to what I was going through, and referred me to a physical therapist that was also a yoga instructor, hoping that this new physical therapist could help me find ways to safely do yoga again.
I've been seeing both of my physical therapists and I have another x-ray scheduled for 6 months after the initial one.
My back pain has been getting much better from doing my physical therapy exercises, and per the recommendation of the conservative physical therapist, I started to try Pilates. I had done some Pilates before, so this wasn't anything new. I was also doing some light work on the recumbent bike in the gym. The problem is, that now I'm starting to get some symptoms in my left leg. It's best described as a restlessness, with very occasional tingling or twinges. I went back to my PCP about the leg issues, and he sort of told me that this is something that I can expect to deal with.
Honestly, my anxiety about my condition is worse than the condition itself. I'm worried that I'll have to get surgery, or that I'll have nerve damage in my leg and I won't be able to walk. I understand that this is something that I'm going to have to live with, and I'm going to do everything I can to take care of my back. I've been told that the best thing that I can do is to strengthen my core to prevent further slippage.
I 'm just interested in talking with anyone else that has dealt with something like this, and what worked, and what didn't work. I mostly want to stop the leg symptoms, or safely get used to them. My pain right now is kind of "whatever", and even when I experience some back pain, it doesn't worry me as much as my leg.
Any advice is greatly appreciated, or let me know if you have any questions about my diagnosis, or if something wasn't clear.
Thanks for any help!