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My Spondylolisthesis

My spondylolisthesis

Post Series: Spondylolisthesis

I’ve put on the front page of my journey what Spondylolisthesis is, but I wanted to chat about what I now know and my first 6 months into.

Years ago

When I was 16 / 17 years old, I stood up from a chair and reached over the table but when I went to sit back down again, the chair had been moved by my friends as a prank and I sat down hard on a wooden floor. It was agony. About a week later we went on a hill walking trip across Dartmoor and I carried a lighter bag than my classmates and we slept on the floor on roll mats, but the ground was extremely underrating and jarring on my back. I remember rushing across an area which had big tuffs of grass to catch up with my group and how much it hurt my back. The day after we finished, when I was home, I couldn’t stand up straight as my back was in absolute agony. I remember walking down the spiral staircase in my parents old converted barn, and when I got to the bottom, I used the back of the kitchen chairs to move around the room as I just couldn’t stand up. In those days you didn’t think of getting an x-ray or checking it out properly, so I didn’t. Instead I visited an osteopath a couple of times and he did some acupuncture which settled down my back so I could stand up straight and walk again.


The problem with backache is that we all get it and sometimes we ignore it when others complain about having a bad back. This is definitely true when I was in the Army – we all had aching backs. We all carried heavy weights in training and my back became extremely muscular to support the heavy bags. So throughout my life I haven’t really complained about having a bad back, I’ve used a tennis ball on my glutes which has helped enormously and keep going.



In January 2023 I started to get some numbness and tingling down my right leg. As a massage therapist I knew something wasn’t right so I started doing some exploring, using self massage techniques and testing muscles to see what was happening.

I found lying on my stomach would create a pain somewhere in my right hip, I couldn’t pinpoint the exact location, sometimes it felt like it was in the hip joint in my bottom and other times in my front hip, around the psoas. If I tried to read while lying on my front then I found the whole front and back area would be painful, then numb, and I’d also get strong pains going down my quads.

Physio and massage therapist

After discussing it with my fab massage therapist we weren’t 100% sure what it was and as I couldn’t get to the bottom of the root cause so decided to visit a local private physio. I think a great person should know and admit their limitations and unfortunately this wasn’t the case so after about 4 appointments (because change in our bodies doesn’t happen overnight), and after giving me a yoga cobra exercise which was excruciating and brought a tear to my eye from the pain, I stopped going.

Please note – if you have this condition, or suspect you do, please do not do the cobra or any other types of back bends.



In March I was still worried, the pain and numbness wasn’t great and I found that when I walked my right leg wasn’t in a good place and would hurt, go numb and then feel quite heavy when I walked. If you’ve seen me walking, you know I stride / walk fast / march or whatever you like to describe my walking – it’s anything but slow! I also found turning over in bed excruciating – I couldn’t lift my right leg off the bed to turn over.

One of my clients highly recommended Kenilworth Chiropractic Clinic and Four Sides London because I thought I had done something to my hip. Kenilworth is the closest so I chose them. Their booking system was easy and I booked into see Dr Andy Strause for a consultation.

Interestingly his immediate thought was soft tissue (I knew it wasn’t as I had done everything to try to sort this pain out myself) and the hip too. So after about 5 minutes of doing some hip ranges of movement and motion without me engaging the muscles, it was very clear to both of us that I was wrong and my hip is fine. So the next thing he did was make me hold my leg parallel to the couch, with my knee bent at 90 degrees. I couldn’t help but let out a huge yelp! He pressed into my lower back and the pain lessened – it was completely mind boggling to me but Dr Andy knew exactly what was going on although he said nothing at this point. Downstairs we used their x-ray machine to see what was going on…it was an eye opener. It was extremely clear to see that my back wasn’t ’right’! I then went and had an MRI privately at Health Lodge to see what was going on with my disc and to see what nerve compression was going on.

Dr Andy and I came up with a plan of hard and fast treatment, a typical approach when you have an injury. We organised that I would go to Kenilworth twice a week for 4 weeks and see if it helped the symptoms but unfortunately by week 3 there was no difference so, for now, I have stopped treatment with him. I’m certain that I will go back and I always recommend them as they have been absolutely fantastic.



I was recommended to go and see Professor Shad at the Meridian Hospital in Coventry to explore what the next steps were with my back. He works both privately and with the NHS but initially I wanted answers ASAP as I was so worried about long term nerve damage so I paid to go privately. Professor Shad tested my nerves, both by using a small hammer and also by testing the sensitivity of my lower left by brushing my skin below the knee. The right leg L4 hardly moved when he tested it. He also made me lie down on my back with my legs straight and raise one leg at a time off the bed. My right leg was shaky but I was able to do it – surprisingly because I know normally I can’t because I’d be in too much pain. Later I realised that I had been extremely anxious and emotional on my drive up to the hospital alone and pretty scared, that the adrenaline had acted as a painkiller during the meeting even though I was extremely uncomfortable in the waiting room just before.

Professor Shad chatted about what he thought from looking at the MRI scans and then checked against the report written from the MRI to make sure they had noticed the same thing. He thought that I would benefit from 3 injections in my nerves and ? With the hope it would allow the disc to heal itself and stop the pain.

A couple of weeks later in May I was back at Health Lodge to have my injections, under local anaesthetic. I had to lie down on my stomach to have the injections, and they did them X-ray guided – they put the needle in my back and then took an X-ray to I double check it was in the right place before injecting me. I asked them for a photo of one of the X-rays because I had never seen or heard of this before. And let’s be honest, it didnt happen unless you have a photo of it!! It was a really weird sensation feeling the injections, but the one i was the most surprised about was when I felt it go into my hip in the same place I feel so much pain at night. I had to stay lying down after the injection for 2 hours before I was allowed to get up and get driven home. I spent the rest of the day lying down and taking it extremely easy. I was determined that these injections would work – prior to having them I doubted it would work but after feeling where the liquid had gone, I was sure it would make a difference.

Long term nerve damage can result in muscle atrophy, in other words, if your nerves constantly get damaged they will stop sending singnals to the muscles and the muscles will start wasting away.

Please note that I’m still updating this page so it’s a draft page which has been published!

When I bend forward to touch my toes, a vertebrae pokes out of my back.

Spondylolisthesis is not normally diagnosed unless you have an X-ray, but now I have it, I can confidently say that I can tell the difference when I look at my spine in standing, and if I bent forward in a yoga forward fold – which you should be very careful doing and if you have the condition you shouldn’t be doing often, if at all.

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