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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

Spondylolisthesis is a condition that happens when a bone in your spine moves out of place. The bones often move slowly over time, but they may move suddenly. Spondylolisthesis can occur anywhere in the spine, but it most commonly occurs in the lower back.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have sudden numbness or weakness in your legs.
  • You cannot walk or move your legs.
  • Your pain suddenly gets worse.
  • You have numbness in your genital area or trouble controlling your urine or bowel movements.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not get better with treatment.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have pain in your thighs or buttocks.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Muscle relaxants help decrease pain. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options


  • Rest as directed. Do not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds. Do not bend or twist at the waist. Do not play sports or do vigorous activities. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your usual activities.
  • Apply ice on your back for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your back. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Reach or maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can increase pressure on your spine. This can make your symptoms worse. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Your provider can help you create a healthy weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if alternative therapies are right for you. Examples include yoga and acupuncture. Yoga may increase your strength and flexibility. Acupuncture may help decrease your pain.
  • Stretch as directed when you return to your exercise program. Always warm up your muscles and stretch before you exercise. Do cool down exercises and stretches when you are finished. This will keep your muscles loose and decrease stress on your spine.
    Warm up and Cool Down

Go to physical therapy as directed:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Spondylolisthesis

Treatment options

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.