What should I do if I think I have spondylolisthesis?

If you believe that your back pain is caused by spondylolisthesis, it is extremely important that you visit your physician. As with most degenerative spine conditions, the symptoms of spondylolisthesis can often be managed conservatively with a series of non-surgical treatments, assuming the spinal misalignment isn’t severe and your symptoms aren’t debilitating. Spine surgery is normally reserved as a last resort for pain relief after all other non-surgical treatments have been exhausted.

Preparing for the physician

The first step toward overcoming your symptoms is to prepare for your initial physician’s appointment. Be sure to take detailed notes about your specific symptoms, their duration, the exact location of the discomfort and any other pertinent details you can think of – even the smallest details may be helpful. If your pain is worse in the morning, make a record of it; if your pain goes away when you bend your back a certain way, jot it down. Quite often people forget to mention these facts to their physician when they could be helpful for diagnosing the condition and locating the problem area in the spine.

The examination

Your physician will likely begin the appointment by examining your medical history and asking you a series of questions about your condition. From there, he or she will complete a medical examination and attempt to identify the cause and location of your condition. If spondylolisthesis is believed to be the source of your discomfort, your physician will likely refer you to a medical imagery center for an MRI or CT scan. These three-dimensional scans are exceptional diagnostic tools because they can locate the specific location of the spinal deterioration as well as identify any underlying cause that is behind the spondylolisthesis, such as a herniated intervertebral disc.


Treatment for spondylolisthesis is usually first attempted conservatively, with a series of nonsurgical methods, including:

  • Healthy diet
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication
  • Stretching exercises

In the event that you don’t find sufficient pain relief from these treatments or the spondylolisthesis is severe, surgery may be recommended to decompress affected nerves and stabilize the spine. In some cases, spondylolisthesis can also be treated with one of the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us today to find out if you are a candidate for one of our state-of-the-art procedures.