How to Adjust Your Lifestyle for Faster Recovery from Spondylolisthesis Treatment Surgery

Many people in the US and across the world suffer from Spondylolisthesis which can cause ongoing back pain and neck pain. Although it is not considered a serious ailment and many people can work and live a normal life while suffering from the condition, it is obviously an unwanted condition and the pain can result in stress and prevent a person from doing numerous activities. 

In this FAQ we will look at the various treatment options and how to adjust your lifestyle for faster recovery from Spondylolisthesis treatment surgery.

What is Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is a condition when one of the vertebrae (bones in the spine) moves out of its natural position, causing pain and discomfort. This usually occurs in the lower back but this has also been known to happen in the mid-to-upper back, the top of the spine, or the back of a person’s neck. 

The condition is not to be confused with a slipped disc, as this refers to the tissue between the bones in the spine.

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis

Symptoms of Spondylolisthesis can range in their severity but the most common signs are:

  • Lower back pain can worsen while standing or being active.
  • Consistent pain, a numb feeling, or a tingling sensation that can spread from the spine to the top of the legs.
  • Spinal curvature. 
  • Stiffening or tightening of the back.
  • Tightening of the hamstring muscles.

It is recommended to pay a visit to your local doctor if any of these symptoms persist, who can diagnose the problem correctly and direct you in terms of the next course of action. 

The main causes of Spondylolisthesis

There are many causes of Spondylolisthesis which can include; 

  • Repetitive trauma results in a defect that eventually causes the bone to slip, this is most common for people who play a lot of sports or are very active in the gym. 
  • A birth defect in the spine.
  • An abnormality such as a tumor. 
  • Amongst older people, the condition could simply be a result of age, with the bones becoming worn over time, or maybe a result of arthritis.
  • A significant impact, or trauma to the spine. E.G a fracture. 

Can I get non-surgical treatment for Spondylolisthesis?

There are numerous Spondylolisthesis treatments that can be tried before going down the route of surgery which would require a lengthy period of rest. These treatments can range from simple measures to medication, and therapy.

Taking as much rest as possible and avoiding activities that could put additional strain on your back, such as sports, is of course the easiest way to relieve the symptoms of Spondylolisthesis.

There is also a range of medications that you could try to ease the pain and discomfort of the condition – recommended medication can include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen or Naproxen. 

If this medication is not effective then the next step may be steroid injections into the area which is causing pain.

Alternatively, a person suffering from Spondylolisthesis may also attend physical therapy which can help strengthen your back and abdomen. Exercising each day can be a great way to relieve pain in the long term. 

For children and younger people, using a back brace can also help to provide stability to your spine as it limits sharp movements, helping the damaged vertebrae to heal. 

Can I have surgery for Spondylolisthesis?

If you are not seeing the desired results following Degenerative Spondylolisthesis treatment then the next option would likely be surgery.

Surgery would be recommended if your condition persists for a long period of time and the pain becomes severe. The most common form of surgery would be Spinal Fusion Surgery and as the name suggests, this involves fusing the slipped bone to the adjacent bones using metal screws and rods, in addition to a small section of bone taken from elsewhere in the body. The screws and rods usually remain inside the body on a permanent basis. 

Another method is to remove the disc (tissue) between the slipped bones and replace it with a mechanical implant device, also consisting of a bone graft that will ensure the vertebrae are kept apart and no longer cause discomfort. A general anesthetic would be used for this surgery, and the one above, therefore the patient would not be conscious. 

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Back surgery is of course a form of major surgery and the patient is likely to remain in the hospital for around a week after the procedure. It should also be noted that any surgery of this kind does run the risk of complications.

Spinal fusion surgery for degenerative Spondylolisthesis has a very high success rate, with over 90% of patients reporting improved functionality and a significant decrease in pain levels.

How long does it take to recover from Spondylolisthesis surgery?

The recovery time from spinal and Spondylolisthesis surgery can take a number of months and during this time you would need to avoid strenuous activities, especially sports. This could be a significant issue for anyone who works in an especially manual job. 

Can Spondylolisthesis be reversed?

Unfortunately, Spondylolisthesis cannot be completely reversed but the symptoms can be relieved greatly, to the point where they are not even noticeable. Treatments for example could provide long-term pain relief but will do nothing to repair the slip, or crack itself. 

Whereas surgery would provide stability to the spine and relieve any pressure on the nerves, ultimately helping the patient regain strength in their back. 

Lifestyle changes to speed up Spondylolisthesis surgery recovery

Below are six ways to help speed up back surgery recovery times:

  1. Hydration – It sounds very simple but drinking plenty of water and reducing the consumption of things like coffee and alcohol can be very helpful as it results in the tissue producing less lactic acid.
  2. Quit smoking – Smoking has been proven to weaken bones and speed up the degeneration of things like the spinal disc. This could prevent the bones from fusing correctly.
  3. Sleep – Make sure you get a good night’s sleep to allow your body to repair itself. 
  4. Keep your weight down – Focus on maintaining a healthy diet, combined with moderate exercise to keep your weight down and limit any additional pressure on your spine. 
  5. Try to move frequently – It may be tempting to avoid regular movement but it is vital to speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of complications.
  6. Posture – When sitting, focus on your posture and avoid slouching or hunching over your desk to ensure your spine is correctly aligned.

We hope this article has been of use and answered any questions you may have.