Chiropractic Care for Spondylolisthesis

Written by Stephen M. Perle, DC, MS

Chiropractic care is a nonsurgical treatment option for pain commonly assumed to be caused by spondylolisthesis (a forward slippage of a vertebra). If you have spondylolisthesis, chiropractic care may help reduce your back pain because, in most cases, spondylolisthesis isn’t the cause of pain—rather you have mechanical back pain, which chiropractors treat quite effectively.
How does a Chiropractor diagnose spondylolisthesis?
Chiropractors evaluate the spine as a whole—regardless of whether you complain of chronic low back pain or other spondylolisthesis-related symptoms. The entire spine is evaluated because even though your low back hurts, other regions of the spine may be affected too.

During your chiropractic evaluation:

Goals of Chiropractic Care
The main goals of chiropractic care in the treatment of spondylolisthesis include:

Chiropractors do not reduce the slippage of spondylolisthesis. Instead, they address the spinal joints above and below the slipped vertebra—helping to address the mechanical and neurological causes of the pain, not the spondylolisthesis. This can help relieve low back pain and improve motion in the region.

Chiropractic Treatments for Spondylolisthesis
Your treatment plan depends on your symptoms. Your chiropractor may use one of the different types of spinal manipulation (also referred to as a “spinal adjustment”)—active, hands-on techniques that help restore spinal motion—to improve joint motion. Spinal manipulation techniques your chiropractor may use include:

Your chiropractor may also use manual therapies in addition to spinal manipulation to treat injured soft tissues, such as muscles.

Although your chiropractor will use various techniques to help you increase daily activities, chiropractors emphasize prevention as the key to overall health. Your chiropractor can’t reduce the grade of spondylolisthesis, but he or she will work to address any underlying mechanical or neurological causes of your symptoms.

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