Back pain associated with spondylolisthesis will gradually improve in up to one-third of all patients. Slippage of one vertebra over the other does not increase in this group, and worsening of symptoms is not expected in patients who don’t have neurologic symptoms at the time of diagnosis.
Nonsurgical treatment for spondylolisthesis commonly involves physiotherapy, such as that offered at Active Life Physiotherapy. Although the time required for recovery is different for each patient, our physiotherapist may recommend that you attend physiotherapy session a few times each week for four to six weeks. In some cases, patients may need a few additional weeks of care.
Our physiotherapist may ask that you rest your back by limiting your activities. This is to help decrease inflammation and calm muscle spasm. You may need to take time away from sports or other strenuous activities to give your back a chance to heal.
The first goal of treatment is to control symptoms. Our physiotherapist works with you to find positions and movements that ease pain. Treatments of heat, cold, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation may be used to calm pain and muscle spasm. We will show you how to stretch tight muscles, especially the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh.
Your physiotherapist can assign positions and exercises to ease your symptoms. We can design a personalized exercise program to improve flexibility in your low back and hamstrings and to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
The use of a stationary bike can promote aerobic conditioning and puts you in the optimal position to open the spaces where the nerve roots exit. This type if exercise program can aid in reducing the painful symptoms.
If your doctor diagnoses an acute pars fracture that has the potential to heal, it may be recommended that you wear a rigid back brace for a few months. This usually occurs in children and teenagers who begin having back pain and see their doctor early on.
As you recover, our physiotherapist will gradually advance you in a series of strengthening exercises for the abdominal and low back muscles. Working these core muscles helps patients move easier and lessens the chances of future pain and problems.
A primary purpose of your physiotherapy is to help you learn how to take care of your symptoms and prevent future problems. You'll be given a home program of exercises to continue improving flexibility, posture, endurance, and low back and abdominal strength. Our physiotherapist will also describe strategies you can use if your symptoms flare up.
Rehabilitation after surgery is more complex. Patients who have surgery for spondylolisthesis usually stay in the hospital for a few days afterward.
Some surgeons require patients to wear a rigid brace or cast for up to four months after fusion surgery for spondylolisthesis. Patients who've had fusion surgery for a severe slip may also be required to stay off their feet for a period of time.
After lumbar fusion surgery for spondylolisthesis, patients must normally wait four months before beginning our rehabilitation program. This delay is needed to give the fusion a chance to start healing. Although time required for recovery is different for each patient, Active Life Physiotherapy patients typically need to attend physiotherapy sessions for six to eight weeks and should expect full recovery to take at least 12 months.
Ideally, our patients are eventually able to return to their previous activities. However, some patients may need to modify or discontinue certain activities to avoid future problems.
When your recovery is well under way, your regular visits to Active Life Physiotherapy will end. Although we will continue to be a resource, you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.
Active Life Physiotherapy provides services for physiotherapy in Canmore.