Sharing My Journey with Spondylolisthesis

Welcome! While I am not a doctor, healthcare provider, nor a specialist of the spine, I am most certainly one very experienced patient! I write about my various chronic health conditions and medical adventures, or rather, my struggles, so that I may share my gained knowledge and personal experiences with all of those whom seek help, support, information, resources, along with facts and opinions, in regard to the spine condition Spondylolisthesis. At the time I was diagnosed, the internet was in its infancy, which made it a challenge to find additional information on the condition, let alone connect with those who had already taken the long journey of which I was just beginning. My hope has been, and continues to be, that through the power of the internet, and sites like Blogspot, that I may be able to reach others facing similar circumstance. By sharing my story, knowledge, research and continual experiences, I hope to offer a little guidance, and bring some comfort and empowerment where I had none. This condition, especially when severe, can certainly turn one's life upside down, and I know first hand that proceeding blindly into such a situation can be very overwhelming, painful and scary. If you have any questions or comments, and would like to contact my directly, please check out my Blogger Profile or email You may also contact me by way of my profile here and/or submit a comment at the end of each post.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pre & Post Operative X-Rays (From my 1997 surgeries & body traction)

So, I've been waiting quite some time to take photos of my pre & post operative x-rays from my surgeries & full body traction circa 1997, ... and today I finally did it! Yay! I do plan on creating a more extensive post than this in the very near future, but for now, I will simply post my x-rays from way back when to start things off. I am also in the process of getting copies of my more recent x-rays. Specifically the films which show a better picture of what my spine now looks like as a result of the deterioration, degeneration, and early-onset OsteoArthritis in the L4, L3 & L2 vertebras above my fusion region. In addition, I plan on posting my most recent slip found in my neck, located at the C6 & 7, which thankfully is a grade 1/2, but is certainly still troublesome! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to type away! 

                   Pre-Operative 1997 - Complete slip called Spondyloptosis

Post-Operative 1997. After full body traction, which increased my height by 3 inches, but L5/S1 still sits at a grade 5 Spondylolisthesis. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What are the best exercises for those with Spondylolisthesis?

What are the best exercises for those with Spondylolisthesis? Before I share I would like to say once again that I am not a doctor nor a healthcare professional. The suggestions below are based solely on my own experiences, opinions & research. I believe it's important to stay as active as possible when you have a condition like Spondylolisthesis, or any other chronic health condition, although it's often easier said than done and one must exercise caution and truly listen to their bodies, as not to push yourself too hard physically. Just like with so many other things in life, balance is the key. Most of those who have Spondylolisthesis - whatever the grade - know that many traditional activities, sports and workouts are not always feasible. Therefore, finding an exercise that truly works without making your back and body feel less than wonderful, or worse yet, increasing the degree of the slip can be a challenge.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of my Spondylolisthesis slip and pain. Throughout the years I have tried a number of workouts, some good, some not so much. I was much harder on my body when I was younger. Even pushing myself to do 3 hours a day, 6 days a week, in my teens and early twenties following my surgeries. At that point in time, I felt pretty decent physically. And, as a result of the surgeries and full body traction, my pain had been lessened dramatically. It wasn't until 2006 or so, when I began to experience increasing pain levels and new nerve related issues in my legs. Ultimately, what was going on (besides the fact I have a Spondylolisthesis grade 5 slip which is fused at the L5 S1, nerve damage & pain in my legs & feet, of course!), was new deterioration, degeneration and early onset OsteoArthritis above my fusion region. This is something which was expected, but not so soon after such surgeries. As a result, I had to cut back big time when it came to my workouts.

Because of my nerve deficit's - and my body's way of compensating to walk & function in general - I am not able to go for walks or runs outside in order to get a good workout. I often fall down, whether it be on a flat surface, downstairs and I've even been known to fall up the stairs. Those type of activities and contact sports only increase my pain and throw off my bodies alignment. So, one machine which has been wonderful in allowing me to get in my cardio without hurting my back, legs, hips, knees or feet, is the Elliptical machine. I highly recommend this piece of equipment to anyone with joint problems or a spine condition.

Building core and back strength is also extremely important when it comes to this condition. I have found Pilates to be an excellent form of strengthening, stretching and even a decent cardio workout. Just like Yoga, you can really tailor this activity around your abilities and opt out of those exercises which cause pain. A bonus for this type of workout is that it helps to naturally realign one's body and spine.

Another terrific form of cardio - which is easy on the body & back - is swimming. While I love swimming, I do have great hesitancy towards doing so, especially in public, as I have foot drop, and therefore, trouble walking without shoes. And, walking with bare feet on a wet slippery surface, is a disaster waiting to happen! While I'm on the subject of taking a dip in the pool, I would like to mention something which was shared with me by my surgeon many years ago. For those with Spondylolisthesis, whom have not had any surgery, specifically fusion, working in a pool with light leg weights over an extended period of time can help to lessen the degree of slip by slowly stretching the spine. I was told of one patient who had a grade 5 and worked in the pool for two years before having a fusion surgery to stabilize the condition. She had her Spondylolisthesis fused at a grade 1 following those 2 years of dedication. Amazing!

Finally, I recently started the newer exercise program designed by the trainer Tracy Anderson, called "The 30 Day Method" and the
"Tracy Anderson Method."
Like with Pilates and Yoga, there are some exercises which are not conducive to this spine condition, but they can be avoided. Most of the work is done on the ground and it really helps to strengthen your accessory muscles, and in addition, surprisingly gives you a challenging cardio workout as well.

Please feel free to comment ...

About Me

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My interest for all things related to health & illness arises from my own struggles with chronic health conditions. I have found it most therapeutic & empowering to write about my many experiences within this realm. Through education, my own research, and my ongoing personal challenges, I am teaching myself how to become my own best advocate. To learn more about me, please see the page entitled "About Cat" located at the top of the page. If you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to contact me through the "about" section listed above, or email me at Please note that this address is also linked through my profiles. Blessings of health, energy and peace.

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