Spondy No More?

Back when I was pregnant with my son, in early 2011, a tiny wrong move sent me to my husband’s chiropractor for the first time. She treated me conservatively while I was pregnant, then moved to standard adjustments and therapy post-partum — but my lower back still hurt. An x-ray in Spring 2012 revealed why: I had spondylolisthesis. My L5 vertebra was offset at a Grade 2 level (the grades go from 1 to 4). An MRI the following year confirmed that spondy was in effect, and my joints were degrading, too. Yay for arthritis and a bulging disc at L4-L5.

I’ve been behaving as instructed for the past few years. I’ve lost about 30 pounds since having my son in late 2011, I’ve avoided high-impact exercise like running, and I’ve increased other activities like yoga and core strength exercises. For the most part, I’ve been feeling all right.

This summer, though, there was a stretch of about a month and a half where scheduling kept me from doing my normal activity. After that, I noted a definite uptick in my lower back pain. Nothing severe, nothing incapacitating, just a low-level tightness and discomfort in my lower lumbar region. All the time. With some sciatica thrown in for good measure.

Time for another x-ray, Dr. Smith said. I saw her last Friday for the results.

The conclusions are surprising — so surprising, in fact, that Dr. Smith didn’t believe the written results at first and pulled up the x-rays to see for herself.

There is now no evidence of spondylolisthesis. Only joint degradation.

I didn’t know that could happen, but there you have it. I lost weight and firmed up my core, and my L5 went back into place. Somehow. I’m concerned that might mean that L5 is unstable to a degree. I’m also troubled because now I only have a bulging disc to blame for all this discomfort, and I’m not sure how to treat it differently than my spondy.

I go to a physical therapy evaluation on Monday morning, per Dr. Smith’s orders. I’m curious to hear what they say. From what I’ve read, PT is the best way to heal or correct a bulging disc, so I’m totally on board. Plus, I’d like to get some definitive answers on what my biomechanical weirdnesses are, and how to correct them, and what exercises and movements are right for me, and which should be avoided. For that, I need a professional.

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