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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello - this is my first post and my first visit to this site. Back in 1991 I was diagnosed with bilateral spondylolysis of L5 with no spondylolisthesis present. Being only 24 then, it didn't bother me all too often and I was still able to run, weight lift, etc. A few moths ago, my lower back really began to bother me and I have numbness in my right leg and especially my right butt cheek. So much so that I haven't been able to be as active as I usually am. I had an Xray and learned that I now have Grade 1 spondylolisthesis with 7 mm anterolisthesis of L5 on S1.

My question is: This time last year I was fit as a fiddle running 6 miles 4 times a week and weightlifting with no back pain at all. I was in Iraq and had a good fall on my left side that hurt my shoulder and rattled my back - could that fall been the cause of the crack I've been told that is the cause for the 7 mm anterolisthesis and my current pain? I'm scheduled to see the neurosurgeon next month and am taking celebrex and ultram until then. Does my condition usually warrant surgery?

Any advice, etc is greatly appreciated.



  • I'm not sure if this condition usually requires surgery but if you are told you need surgery, it is always a good idea to get multiple opinions. A fall is never a good thing, and may have caused the crack. But, since you already had a problem that is similar to what you have now (although now it is much more severe and elaborate) it could just be that your condition deteriorated due to the continued physical activity and time. Going over the time frame that your current pain started in relation to when you had your fall with your doctor could give you a clue as to what caused your current state. I'm not a doctor, but it might be near impossible to ever say for sure unless your current pain started right after your fall. These are merely my opinions. I hope that regardless of what caused it, you are able to find pain relief and a safe solution!!!

    Much love,
  • Sorry for the situation you now find yourself in with your back. You might want to read the information at this link which explains how a spondylolysis can progress to spondylolisthesis:


    I don't know what you were doing in Iraq, but if you were involved in a job that required lifting, or carrying a heavy backpack, or something like that, I would guess that the crack could be more like a stress fracture. But it could also have been caused by the fall. As the other poster said, we have no way of judging what may have caused the crack...and the fall certainly didn't help, especially when you already had spondylolysis.

    It will be important to go to a fellowship-trained spinal specialist for a thorough diagnosis. Having spondylolisthesis does not automatically mean you are destined for surgery. Many people have this condition without even realizing it and they are asymptomatic.

    Obviously you are having pain which sounds like the symptoms of a compressed lumbar nerve. It will be important to find out if this is the case, why the nerve is being compressed. Usually, conservative treatments are tried first in an attempt to get the nerve to decompress. This can include the use of oral steroids, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections (ESIs). Only when these methods have failed will surgery be considered.

    Now for some basic advice: if I were you, I would lay off the running, weight-lifting, etc. for now. Walking is the best exercise until you have seen the neurosurgeon. Even if it hurts, it is important to walk as it keeps freshly oxygenated blood flowing into the area. Avoid any activities that involve bending, twisting, reaching overhead. Move your body to the object, rather than reaching for it. Avoid lifting anything heavier than about ten pounds. Use good posture and good body mechanics. Do not slouch in a chair or couch. Try to avoid driving long distances. Also, and this is very important for someone with "spondy," do not do any exercises that put your back in extension. This includes swimming on your stomach or using a kick board. Any position where you are arching your spine backward can worsen the slippage of the vertebrae (unlike a "slipped disk" where patients are sometimes told this action will push the disk material back into place).

    Don't be afraid to use either heat or ice on your lower lumbar back. You will probably find one feels better than the other. (I use a heating pad a lot on mine and even use my car seat heater most of the year as it just feels good!)

    I'm sure I am forgetting things, but this will give you an idea of what to avoid. If you have to have a spondylolisthesis, you are lucky to have it at the L5-S1 level. This location takes much less of the spine's every day motion and torque than if it were one level higher at L4-L5. Also there is an exciting new procedure if it turns out you are a candidate for surgery. Rather than a traditional surgery, it is called AxialIF. If you are curious, you can read about one version here: http://www.trans1.com/about_company_overview.html

    It is new enough that many specialists are not yet trained in it, or are not yet using it.

    But hopefully you can heal without needing surgery. Please keep posting with your comments and questions, and let us know how your appointment goes with the NS.

    xx Gwennie
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