The Slipping Vertebrae Spondylolisthesis

There’s lots of ways that the back can be injured. We’ve covered one condition that is relatively common one, which would be the bulging disk . Now let’s go over another condition, only not as common in everyday life activities: spondylolisthesis.

This word is a bit of a mouth full and it does describe something a tad more rare than the disk bulge. Let us first review some basic anatomy of the spine. The spine is made up of various segments called vertebra and each vertebra has a body and a tail portion. In spondylolisthesis, there is a fracture of a specific tail portion of your vertebrae called the “pars interarticularis”. Due to this fracture, the stability of the spine becomes compromised and a section of the spine can slip forward.

With this forward shift, lots of things can cause pain, including the disk between the vertebrae, the bones itself and even the nerves that come out the side. If the nerves are not involved, the pain would likely stay that the back. If the nerves are indeed affected, you can have various neurological symptoms like numbness and tingling down the leg.

Fracturing this part of your vertebrae is pretty difficult. The most common occurrence of this condition with be in dancing. This is because most dancers are required to arch their back while performing high impact jumping type movements. The combination of both movements causes much stress on the tail portion of the vertebrae, therefore placing dancers at a higher chance of getting this injury.

As common as back injuries are, diagnosing the exact structures can be rather difficult. If you have any issues with your back, it’s a good idea to get a professional to have a closer look and make sure everything is okay. At Capital physiotherapy, we have physios who have plenty of experience with identifying the correct treatment for back injuries. If you’re in the neighbourhood near our clinics located in Balwyn, Footscray and South Yarra, book with one of our friendly physiotherapist by emailing us at info@capitalphysiotherapy.com.au to get you back to the activities you love.

Exercises for Back Pain Relief

One in 6 Australians experiences lower back pain at some stage in life.  Symptoms of lower back pain can be debilitating – pain can remain localised in the lower back and in some cases can refer down the legs.  It also restricts movements which then affect work and simple activities of daily living such as putting shoes on, sitting and pulling pants up etc.

Despite pain with movement, exercises are recommended over rest.  Avoid prolonged sitting or standing as remaining in stationery positions tends to disengage muscles that are essential to provide stability to your back.  Keep it moving help relieve pain and assists in the recovery. Here are some gentle exercises that can provide some relief to your back pain:

  Hip flexor stretch

  • Hip flexors are commonly tight for those who sits a lot as it remains in a shortened position when sitting.  Tight hip flexor can contribute to back pain as it attaches to the spine.
  • By performing this stretch as in the picture, you’ll feel tension at the front of the back leg. Push your hips forward to deepen the stretch.
  • Hold for at least 30secs.  Do 3-5 times on each side daily.

Glutes stretch

  • This stretch targets the gluteal muscles and can easily be done when in the office or commuting on the train
  • Sit with one leg crossed, lean forward and gently press the knee of the crossed leg down. You’ll feel a stretch on the side of the hip.

Cat and camel

  • This exercise aims to gently get your back moving
  • Start on your hands and knees.  Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips.
  • Slowly drop your stomach down and then gently arch your back up.
  • Do 10 times every morning and night

Bridging

  • This exercise strengthens hip muscles that tends to be switched off when sitting for long.
  • Start by lying down with knees bent. Making sure hips, knees and ankles are in line.
  • Lift hips up and lower down with control
  • Do 15-20 per set and 2-3 sets daily.

Pelvic tilt

  • This exercise targets your core muscles which assists in providing stability for your back
  • Prepare by setting up the same as the last exercise.
  • Tuck your tailbone in to flatten the curve on your back, hold for 5-10 secs then relax. You should feel your tummy muscles contracting.
  • Do 5-10 secs hold for 10 times every day

Walking

Although simple, walking is one of the dynamic exercises that is effective in engaging many different muscles. It is also a low impact exercise that can replace running or other high intensity when you have back pain.

If you are suffering from back pain, physios at capital physiotherapy can assess, diagnose and provide you with the right exercises to relieve pain and get your back moving.  Capital physiotherapy is also passionate at injury prevention, so give us a call if you would like more exercises and strategies to prevent recurring lower back pain.

Images from http://www.legacyneuro.com/fitness-friday-maintain-healthy-back/

https://www.bidmc.org/about-bidmc/blogs/wellness-insight-landing/sports-medicine-and-fitness/hip-flexor-stretch

https://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/stretching/seated-glute-stretch/

https://goodexerciseguide.com/the-exercises/bridging-exercise/

https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/how-to-be-more-mindful-just-by-breathing-and-walking

BULGING Disc? Herniated Disc?

One of a common reason for lower back pain is due to a bulging disc. But what exactly is a disc?

The disc is a gel like substance that sits in between our bones in the spine, the vertebrae). These discs acts to help with: shock absorption, spinal stability and allows a more efficient movement from the spine. The discs are made up of two parts: the more elastic outer shell, which keeps the shape of the disc together, and the gel like inside.

 

In normal movements, the disc will get compressed and extend in certain parts, depending on the movement. For example, bending forwards will result in the front part of the disc to be compressed, while the back part will be distended.

When you have a ‘disc bulge’, what happens is, instead of the outer elastic part keeping the disc’s shape, it has protruded out (this is called Bulged Disc). Depending on the severity of the injury, the gel like content can actually seep out as well! (This is called a Herniated Disc). 

Symptoms

Apart from pain, this bulging disc may be severe enough that it touches the nearby nerve root. When this occurs, you may also experience the following symptoms: pins and needles, numbness, burning, electrical shocks as well as loss of power in your legs. 

 

 

 

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is important that you seek a trusted physiotherapist that will be able to do a comprehensive assessment on you to get the correct diagnosis quickly. Without the right diagnosis, your treatment will be ineffective.

At Capital Physiotherapy, our initial appointment is 60 minutes, instead of the normal 20-30 minutes. This allows our physiotherapists the time to complete a full assessment so that the right treatment be implemented. The quicker your back is treated, the better your outcome is!

We are well equipped at providing you the best care to get you back on your feet. Treatments may include:

  • Mobilisation
  • Massage
  • Electrotherapy
  • Exercise prescription, including building core strength
  • Pilates equipment, including: reformers and Wunda Chair.