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Spondy Spinal Conditions

Spondylosis, Spondylitis, Spondylolysis, and Spondylolisthesis are structural conditions that affect the alignment and integrity of the bony parts of the human spine. Spondy- conditions typically occur in the lower back, but due to the lifetime strain, ongoing loading and physical activities, as well as the effect of age- and disease-related deterioration, it is possible for Spondy- conditions to affect other segments of the spine as well. Spondylitis, Spondylosis, Spondylolisis and Spondylolisthesis are distinct conditions that happen to affect similar areas in the human back.


Spondylitis is an umbrella term that includes different kinds of inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis is the swelling and inflammation of tissues in and around joints, and so worsening episodes of spondylitis can often go un-diagnosed or otherwise diagnosed as back pain. The symptoms of Spondylitis are similar to those experienced in mechanical lower back pain, and so accurate diagnosis of the issue may take time, review with other medical professionals, and imaging of the spine to rule out more serious or other pathological causes.


Spondylosis is similar to spondylitis, being a type of arthritis. However, whily spondylitis develops as a consequence of an autoimmune condition, spondylosis develops due to normal wear and time-based use of the intervertebral discs and the spine as part of ageing. Given that spondylosis and its measurable features develop over time, the incidence of spondylosis in the population increases with age. Spondylosis can arise in the neck, the lower back, and in the upper and lower parts of the ribcage, due to the articulated and mobile nature of these regions. Additionally, as time goes on and symptoms develop, spondylosis can also be accompanied by bone spurs in the regions affected, as well as irritation of the nerve roots exiting the spine due to structural change to the apertures through which these nerves pass.


Spondylolysis refers to a stress fracture defect in a specific part of the vertebrae, which are the bones that make up the spine. This stress fracture is usually caused by repetitive loading over time, or traumatic damage due to impact, disease, strenuous activity, or recreational exercise. The extent to which this stress fracture causes discomfort and symptoms depends on the severity of the fracture itself as well as the mechanism by which the fracture occurred. While structural change is a normal part of growing, living and ageing due to the natural adaptive capacity of the human body, time-related weardown or damage to anatomical structures can cause issues like difficulty standing and walking, bending, changes in strength and sensation in the limbs, and of course, pain.


Spondylolisthesis often refers to the progression of another spondy-injury, but it may also may arise independently of any prior illness or injury, or may be congenital. Spondylolisthesis is defined as the displacement of one vertebra over the vertebral body below it, and depending on the extent to which the vertebra is displaced, this may cause different symptoms. Low-grade displacements may present with generalised discomfort. Pronounced displacement may cause severe pain, sensation and stress changes, and other issues that may require medical attention and cause other more serious consequences. Given that vertebrae may move forward, backward, or left and right relative to the segments below them, Spondylolistheses can also be described as anterolistheses, posterolistheses, and laterolistheses, indicating forward, backward, or sideways movement respectively.

Regardless of the nature and extent of the condition, physiotherapy intervention can help to assess, diagnose, triage and manage any discomfort as well as take note of the presence or likelihood of serious side-effects or symptoms that warrant further investigation. Management of your discomfort depends on its causative factors, how it feels and changes during the day, what makes it better and worse, and the length of time you have been experiencing that pain. All of these factors will be addressed in your initial assessment, which is the first step toward managing and minimising any pain or discomfort. The treatment you receive will be tailored to address the specific cause of your discomfort, and will focus on minimising pain, maximising your ability to move pain-free, and developing a plan to minimise the risk of a flare-up in the future.

At Atlas Physio, we will provide you with education, structured management, and ongoing monitoring of your pain both in-clinic and out. Contact us to arrange an assessment, and to take the first step on a course of corrective care today.

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