Physiotherapy And Spondylolisthesis

Physiotherapist Maribyrnong

Physiotherapy And Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition in which there is forward slippage of one vertebral body onto the vertebral body beneath it. Most commonly presenting in the lower back, Spondylolisthesis can also present in the neck, causing significant pain and discomfort.


Some of the more common causes of Spondylolisthesis include:

  • Traumatic injury in the lower back i.e. motor vehicle accident
  • Degenerative changes to the joints and bones in the spine 
  • Congenital abnormalities i.e. malformation of the facet joints in the spine
  • Excessive strain in sporting activities i.e. football, weightlifting, gymnastics
  • Stress fracture in a vertebra of the lower back

Risk Factors:

There are certain contributing factors that might result in a heightened risk of spondylolisthesis. Some of those are:

  • The shape or structure of the facet joints
  • Generalised hypermobility
  • Pregnancy
  • Engaging in sports that involve lower back rotation and back arches
  • Biomechanical abnormalities
  • Being overweight or having a sedentary lifestyle 
  • Poor postural practices and inappropriate lifting techniques
  • Compromised muscle strength, balance, stability and flexibility


  • Constant low back pain worse following activity
  • Tenderness in the lower back
  • Back and leg stiffness
  • Buttock and Thigh pain
  • Neurological symptoms radiating down the legs i.e. Pins and Needles and numbness
  • Observable depression above the 5thvertebra in the lower back
  • Tight Buttock and hamstring muscles
  • Difficulty walking / Limping
  • Difficulty with coordination and balance
  • Muscle weakness in the lower back
  • Sway back
  • Pain with lower back movements i.e. back arches

Classification of the Slippage:

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal disorder that comes in varying degrees of severity. These degrees of severity are broken down into four grades:

  • Grade 1- slip from 0-25%
  • Grade 2- slip from 25-50%
  • Grade 3- slip from 50-75%
  • Grade 4- slip more than 75%

In seeking to manage and treat the symptoms of Spondylolisthesis, your physiotherapist will help you understand the nature and severity of any potential Spondylolisthesis condition.


Your physiotherapist will provide a correct diagnosis of your condition based on your clinical examination, symptom behaviour and history. Further investigations may be required to exclude or confirm diagnosis. 


Treatment for spondylolisthesis depends on the severity of the vertebral slippage and pain. Grades one and two can often be treated successfully with non-invasive physiotherapy treatments. Typically Grade three and four slippages require some form of surgical intervention.

A common range of physiotherapy treatments will include postural and balance retraining, prescribed exercises to perform at home, manual therapy, electrotherapy and mobility retraining.

Get in touch with Edgewater Physiotherapy today.

If you believe that you may have been experiencing the symptoms of Spondylolisthesis, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Edgewater Physiotherapy.

You can call at (03) 9510 8866 or book a consultation online.

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