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What precautions can i take for a retrolisthesis of 3.5mm?

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Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 504 Questions
Hi, I'm a 51 year old healthy woman, but injured my back 2 months ago lifting something heavy. It didn't hurt immediately and not too badly for the next month, but it wasn't getting better, either, so I went to my primary care doc, who sent me to PT. During the course of PT it got worse, so my primary doc sent referred me to a specialist and out for an X-ray (no flexion) and it showed a 3.5 mm retrolisthesis at L3 compared to L4. Specialist can't see me for a month. I now have bad sciatica in both legs. Question: Is there anything I might accidentally do in the meantime that might make the slippage worse? Is walking a good idea in the meantime? It hurts to sit in a chair - does this mean I might be causing further damage? What class is 3.5 mm?
Posted Thu, 19 Apr 2012 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Shiva Kumar R 18 hours later

Thanks for the query.

Retrolisthesis of 3.5 mm is of mild to moderate category. However whether it is causing compression of the nerves exiting between L3 and L4 can be made out better on MRI of the Lumbosacral spine.

Clinically your symptoms are bad and it is on both side.

Please follow these measures:
1. At present do not lift weight, particularly while you are bending.
2. Take analgesics(pain killer) if it is severe pain.
3. Walking is not a bad idea.
4. Start on medicines like Gabapentin or Pregabalin for your sciatica after consulting your doctor.
5. Re-start physiotherapy.
6. Get an MRI done as early as possible.

If PT and medicines does not help you may require surgery for stabilisation of the retrolisthesis and reduce the compression of the nerves exiting the spine.

Hope this answers your query. In case of any doubts, I am available for the follow ups.

Wish you a speedy recovery.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What precautions can i take for a retrolisthesis of 3.5mm? 1 hour later
Hi - thanks. It hurts a lot to sit. So much so that I have not sat in a chair for 6 weeks. So of course it hurts to drive. What I am wondering is whether I could be making my condition worse if I try to get past the pain and sit or drive - not constantly, but just about once or twice per week for about an hour?
Answered by Dr. Shiva Kumar R 9 hours later

Thanks for getting back to me.

When you are sitting roots or nerves which are exiting from the spine are stretched and cause pain to you, particularly when you are sitting for long. Give a break for your self every 15 minutes by standing or walking few steps. It is not going to damage your roots. Try to keep your legs streteched a lit bit if possible and it will reduce your pain.

Wish you good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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