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Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

What Are Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

One of the primary roles of the spine is to protect the spinal cord. This means that the spine needs to be strong while maintaining the flexibility required for a movable trunk. While the spine is very sturdy, spinal injuries do occur. Health professionals often use terms to describe and classify injuries of the body, two of these terms that you may have heard are Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis.

What are they?

Spondylolysis refers to a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis of the vertebra. This is the part of the vertebra that connects the body of the vertebra with the rest of the vertebra that surrounds the spinal cord. A separation of this fracture where the body of the vertebra is displaced forwards or backwards is called a spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolisthesis is a progression of spondylolysis and is given grades to classify its severity. Both spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis commonly affect the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, found at the base of the lower back.

What are the causes?

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis can be a result of trauma with the spine being moved forcefully into extension, particularly in younger people. Certain sports such as gymnastics, football and weightlifting require repetitive backward movements of the spine and this can eventually lead to a stress fracture of the pars interarticularis. Growth spurts in teens have also been known to be responsible for the development of these conditions.

In older adults, common causes of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis are degenerative changes in the spine due to aging, osteoporosis, infection or even a tumour. Some people have a genetic vulnerability in this area of their spine making them more susceptible to developing spondylolysis and then spondylolisthesis.

What are the symptoms?

Many people with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis may be asymptomatic, which means they perform their normal activities without experiencing any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, common complaints are pain and tightness, much like a muscle strain, spreading across the lower back. This pain may be eased by bending forwards and aggravated by walking, running or leaning backwards.

In more progressive cases of spondylolisthesis, the shift of the vertebral body can cause narrowing of the spinal canal that can lead to nerve compression. This may cause hamstring tightness and even numbness and weakness of the lower limbs, affecting gait and daily activities.

How can physiotherapy help?

Your physiotherapist will work closely with you and any relevant medical professionals to determine exactly what is needed for your particular condition. Severe instability in the spine may require stabilization surgery, however this is rare and in most cases, symptoms of spondylolisthesis can be improved with regular physiotherapy management.

Physiotherapy that focuses on strengthening and improving the flexibility of both the lower back and the abdominal muscles has been shown to have positive effects on both pain and function for those with symptomatic spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis.

Speak to one of our physiotherapists for more information regarding your individual condition. The information in this article is not a replacement for medical advice.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Rheumatoid Arthritis | Symptoms and Treatment

What is it?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis classified as an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disorders are conditions where the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. This process of inflammation, the bodies defence system against injury and infection can damage joints and cause deformity over a long period of time. Unlike osteoarthritis, which usually affects larger joints that are involved in weight bearing, rheumatoid arthritis can affect many joints at the same time, with smaller and larger joints affected equally.

What are the symptoms?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, characterised by periods of remissions and flare-ups. During a flare-up, joints might become red, hot, swollen and painful. During a remission a patient might have few symptoms, however over many years, these flare-ups can degrade and deform joints, causing them to lose function and the muscles around them to weaken.

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary from mild to severe and as mentioned, can fluctuate significantly over time. As movement can help to reduce swelling caused by inflammation, pain can actually increase as joints are rested. A person with rheumatoid arthritis may complain of pain and stiffness that is worst when waking and may take 1-2 hours to subside.

What are the causes?

While rheumatoid arthritis is known to be a process of autoimmune dysfunction, the trigger that causes the immune system attack healthy tissues is unknown. In some cases, a virus may trigger the onset of the disease. There is evidence that women have a stronger immune system than men, and a downside of this is that they are more prone to autoimmune disorders, as is the case with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Other risk factors associated with rheumatoid arthritis include a family history of rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and smoking.

How can physiotherapy help?

While there is no cure at present for the disease process that causes rheumatoid arthritis, there are treatments that can improve the patient’s quality of life and help to manage the symptoms. The first line of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is medication particularly, anti-inflammatory medications. Change in lifestyle and diet are also advised.
The objectives of physiotherapy treatment for rheumatoid arthritis are to improve joint mobility, increase strength, restore the function of the affected joints and to maintain the level of activity of the patient. Physiotherapy treatments include heat or cold therapy, hydrotherapy, therapeutic exercises, pain management, manual techniques and patient education. Splinting may be done to protect joints from further damage. Patient education is an important part of the treatment so that the patient is knowledgeable about his/her disease, what to do and not to do.

All of these treatments can help reduce the potential long-term disabilities caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Speak to your physiotherapist for more information.

 

The information in this article is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Lumbar Disc Degeneration: Overview, Causes, and Symptoms

What is it?

The discs of the spine sit between the vertebral bodies and act as shock absorbers for the spine. In the lumbar spine the outer part of the disc is made up of thick fibrous rings called the annulus fibrosus and the inner part is a soft jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. The discs in the spine also move to allow flexibility and movement of the spine, particularly in the lumbar spine where they are the largest.

As we age, our discs begin to dehydrate, losing height, elasticity, and flexibility. The result is a spine that can feel stiffer, less flexible and a bit sore with certain movements. While almost everyone will have some degree of degeneration into their later years, not everyone will experience symptoms.

What are the Symptoms?

The most commonly felt symptoms of disc degeneration are stiffness and pain in the lower back. The pain is usually felt over the spine where the disc degeneration has occurred, but also often radiates into the buttock region. In severe cases of disc degeneration, increased wear and tear can cause bony spurs to develop on the vertebral body. These spurs can cause muscle weakness, numbness and tingling sensations in the leg and foot if they place pressure on the nerves around the spine.

How does this happen?

Disc degeneration usually affects people over the age of 50, however symptoms can begin in your 30s. As we age, all of our tissues gradually lose collagen and elastin, in the spinal discs this process results in smaller, less flexible discs. Repetitive activities like bending on the waist to lift heavy objects and prolonged sitting also cause additional wear and tear of the discs and amplify the degenerative process.

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Imaging such as MRI and XRAY can help determine the level of degeneration that has occurred with increasing accuracy, however in recent years research has shown that the level of degeneration that can be seen In imaging cannot reliably predict the amount of pain a person will experience. This can be confusing for patients and getting scans that show large amounts of degeneration can be a distressing experience, regardless of symptoms, making patients feel helpless.

Physiotherapy can help patients return to their normal activities as soon as possible and regain optimal function for their individual presentation. In addition, physiotherapy helps patients to manage their pain by helping them understand their pathology and, strengthen trunk stabilisers to prevent recurrence of any injury.

The information in this article is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your individual injury.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

The Hidden Risks Of A Sedentary Lifestyle

By now it should come as no surprise that prolonged periods of inactivity are bad for your health. It seems that the science is in, and the bad news is that long periods of sitting or inactivity is a risk factor for many diseases, independent of other factors such as obesity.

What does this mean?

This means that if you are hitting the gym for an hour a day, but are sitting down for long periods during the rest of the day without moving, you may not be avoiding the health risks that come with sitting.

So why is sitting so bad?

There is evidence that shows that when sitting for long periods, our bodies show unhealthy changes in blood pressure and blood sugar levels that over long periods of time can lead to increased risk of diabetes, dementia and obesity. How much sitting is considered too much and how long it takes for these changes to take place is up for debate. What we do know is that regularly breaking up your periods of sitting is a healthy lifestyle choice you can make for yourself in the same way that drinking water, regular cardio exercise and eating vegetables are.

The insidiousness of the issue is that it’s likely that you are sitting much more than you used to without even realising it. Car commutes to work are getting longer, working days are often spent at a desk and with the rise of online T.V, you might be guilty of three or more hours stuck in one spot catching up with your favourite characters before you know it.

I have an office job, what can I do?

The first step to changing this habit is to start being aware of exactly how long you are sitting for an uninterrupted period of more than 20 minutes. Once you start noticing your daily patterns you can identify moments where changes can be made. We’ve heard of incidental exercise, but we’ll call this ‘incidental standing’. Consider standing on the train instead of sitting or standing when you have a document to read.

Here are a few other tips to get you moving;

  • Set an alarm to go off every half an hour that reminds you to get up and get a drink (this might also help to keep you hydrated)
  • Try out a standing desk
  • Stand up to take phone calls or get up to go ask a colleague a question instead of calling them
  • Take a walking lunch break

Speak to your physiotherapist for more ideas tailored to suit your individual lifestyle.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.
Posturing Yourself to Feel Better

Posturing Yourself to Feel Better

Being told to stand up straight is a rite of passage for most teenagers. New research is showing that there is more to gain from having good posture than just a healthy spine. Your posture and body language have now been shown to affect the way you feel. Most people recognize that when you’re unhappy or tired you naturally slouch and when you’re feeling confident your shoulders are set back and you have a spring in your step.

What is more difficult to understand is that the reverse is also true. It seems that your posture can also affect your mood. In a recent study, people who adopted a posture of confidence for two minutes before a job interview reported feeling more confident and actually performed better in the interview than people who adopted low confidence postures for the same period of time.

You already knew that a good posture could make you feel better but this adds a whole new dimension to the issue. It also seems that you actually can run away from your problems. A study of college students suffering from mild to moderate depression showed improvement of their mood after starting a jogging program. When they were compared to students who took anti-depressants instead, they found the jogging students felt better quicker with fewer side effects.

By no means is exercise a replacement for supervised treatment, but it has a very useful place. Patients who combine high intensity exercise with other treatment types are also less likely to have recurring episodes of depression than those who don’t.

So along with less pain, increased strength, lower risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis, you can add mental well being to the list of reasons to move well and stay active.

Posturing Yourself to Feel Better

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre - serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.