Lumbar Spondylolisthesis Treatment

Lumbar spondylolisthesis is a painful condition where vertebra within the spine slides forward compared to the bone beneath it.

At Vitalis Physiotherapy, we specialise in lumbar spondylolisthesis treatment to:

What is lumbar spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a term referring to spinal instability, where bones within the spinal columns are prone to slide forward over the  vertebra below. The condition is often painful and can reduce general mobility and movement. The slippage often compresses nearby nerves.

There are several types of lumbar spondylolisthesis:

  • Congenital spondylolisthesis (Type I) – occurs at childbirth, where the spine is misaligned and not fully formed, placing higher risk of slippage in adulthood
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis (Type II) – occurs as a result of spondylosis, where the crack or fracture causes bone weakness
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis (Type III) – the most common, occurs due to aging, which in turn increases the likelihood of thinning discs prone to slippage
  • Traumatic spondylolisthesis (Type IV) – caused by fractures in other parts of the spine (e.g., facet joints), typically though trauma like a motor vehicle accident
  • Pathological spondylolisthesis (Type V) – caused by a pathological disease (e.g., osteoporosis, osteoarthritis) or tumour
  • Post-surgical spondylolisthesis (Type VI) – where slippage occurs due to spinal surgery
  • Retrololistheis (Type VII) – the backward slippage of vertebrae
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What are the causes?

The cause of lumbar spondylolisthesis greatly varies depending on age, lifestyle and a family history of the condition. It can present at birth/childhood through to rapid growth in adolescence and general aging in adulthood.


Other factors may affect susceptibility to developing lumbar spondylolisthesis, including:

  • Certain sports which may overstretch and stress the back (e.g., football, gymnastics, track & field, weightlifting, etc.)
  • Physical labour, with repetitive bending, twisting, pulling and pushing actions
  • Sudden injury or trauma to the spine
  • Pre-existing pathological conditions (e.g., osteoporosis, arthritis)
  • Spinal surgeries

What are the symptoms?

  • Lower back pain
  • Worsening pain after periods of activity
  • Pain and/or weakness in one or both thighs/legs
  • Tight hamstring muscles
  • Nerve pain (tingling, numbness, pins & needles)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Change in gait patterns
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Treatment for lumbar spondylolisthesis

As there are different levels of vertebrae slippage, you may be referred to get scans (X-ray, MRI and/or CT). A physiotherapist will grade your condition depending on the slippage as either:

  • Low-Grade (Grade I & II) – non-surgical treatment is the most beneficial, usually attributed to some patients with isthmic lumbar spondylolisthesis, but mostly to degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis cases.
  • High Grade (Grade III & IV) – surgical intervention may be necessary depending on the cause, severity of the slippage and pain experienced.


At Vitalis Physiotherapy, we tailor a treatment plan to best fit your recovery goals through:

  • Soft tissue mobilisations (massage)
  • Stretching exercises
  • Strengthening, conditioning and balance techniques
  • Restoring range of movement
  • Postural improvement
  • Dry needling
  • Taping
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Home exercise and self-management techniques
  • Graded Exposure to load program

Your physiotherapist may also advise heat or ice application, rest and if necessary, pain medication. Additionally, they might recommend for you to use spinal support (braces) or to improve gait and posture through custom foot orthotics and other supportive footwear options.

How to book an appointment?

If you have lumbar spondylolisthesis and are looking for physical therapy options, or you’re looking for a ‘physiotherapist near me’, our physios at Vitalis Physiotherapy can assess your condition to tailor a unique rehabilitation plan to aid in your pain relief and recovery. They may also refer you to get scans in some severe cases to better understand your needs.

All you need to do is just give us a call on 0410 559 856 and request an initial appointment. Please let our friendly reception staff know the background and severity of your condition.

You can visit our FAQs for more information about appointments at Vitalis Physiotherapy.


Need Help?

Are you in pain caused by lumbar spondylolisthesis? Contact Vitalis Physiotherapy now to book in your treatment.

Call our friendly team on 0410 559 856. We’d love to help.

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Sinnamon Park Village

3/58 Oldfield Road, Sinnamon Park Qld 4073


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