10 Things That Make Your Spondy Unique

unique spondylolisthesis

If you were to take a survey of spondy patients and ask them if they have had a hard time finding answers to their spondy questions, I would be willing to bet you would get a unanimous YES!

Doctors, therapists, chiropractors and trainers do not always have THE answer you are looking for to your specific spondy questions. And sometimes they are stumped by specific spondy questions.

But why is that?

Why is it that most of the spondy articles, websites, and information out there does not provide simple, concrete, straight forward answers to some of the most common spondy questions?

Why is there no specific answers to spondy question such as:

  • What exercise is best for my spondy?
  • What stretch is going to relieve my pain?
  • What is the safest activity for my spondy?
  • Will running hurt my spondy?
  • What is the best type of spondy therapy?
  • Should I have spondy surgery?
  • What position can I sit in that does not hurt?
  • What braces or tools can help my spondy?

These questions are identical to the ones that we receive on a daily basis.  Even though we wish we could give out answers that would help our readers, some questions from readers require more questions from us before we can move forward with any type of answer/information.

The reason why finding answers to some of your spondy questions is such a challenge is fairly simple…..

Each spondy situation or patient is unique. Having a spondy is not like having the flu or having a broken arm or torn ACL. 

When you have the flu and visit the doctor they run a few tests, come up with a diagnosis and provide you with some antibiotics to cure the ailment.

When you have a broken arm – or suspect you have a broken arm – they run some x-ray’s, determine if there is a break and how severe it is, prescribe surgery or a cast and perhaps sling and plan for improvement.

Broken hand

When you suffer a knee injury that is severe, you get an MRI, receive a diagnosis, and if the injury is a torn ACL you have the option for surgery and a scripted rehab plan designed to strengthen and improve the injury.

Spondy’s are different. Much different.

And if you have had the time to read our FREE Ebook you have heard us discuss this topic and why it is SO important to understand for every spondy patient.

Remember, there is no set in stone path for therapists, chiropractors or trainers to follow.  You could essentially go to ten different facilities for your spondy treatment and receive ten different approaches to treating your spondy (I know this from experience as everyone of my rehab experiences was different).

You could visit 5 different doctors and 2 could suggest surgery, 1 could recommend rehab, 1 could say try a chiropractor and 1 could suggest “there is nothing you can do”.

So who is right and who is wrong? And more importantly why is there no set in stone path to improvement like there is with having the flu, a broken arm or a torn ACL?

One of the main reasons is the variety of factors that make spondy’s unique.

Unlike the conditions listed above, finding out you have a spondy is just a small tip of the iceberg as there are additional factors that need to be considered when it comes to finding answers that suit you and your spondy.

Each factor makes each spondy patient unique in their own way. And although we all may have a spondy – we are all very unique which leads to different avenues for success when it comes to moving and feeling better.

Below I list 10 examples of ways your spondy is unique from mine or any other spondy patient. I also provide a very brief explanation of each one. When you read them I encourage you to think about your situation.

Do you know where you fall in each of these examples?

If not, then it may be time to learn more about your spondy and improve your spondy knowledge. The more you know about your spondy and your body – the better your chances are at moving and feeling better.

10 Things That Make Your Spondy Unique

1. Spondylolisthesis or Spondylolysis

We use the term “spondy” in reference to BOTH medical conditions – spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis.

If you have a spondy it is important to know and understand what you have. An easy way to know the difference between the two is that a spondylolisthesis involves slippage and a spondylolysis does not.

Both refer to a break in the vertebrae, but only a spondylolisthesis involves a slip.

You doctor should explain to you what condition you have by looking at your test results.

2. The Type of Spondylolisthesis

Did you know there are several different types of spondylolisthesis?

Experts have come up with various types or categories of spondylolisthesis due to the complexities of the condition.

Being diagnosed with a spondylolisthesis is just the beginning.

Thorough discussion with your doctor should help to determine the type of spondy you have.

3. The Grade of Spondylolisthesis

Now that you know the type of spondy, you also need to know what grade it is. Spondylolisthesis grades are based on the severity of the slip involved.

What grade you have is an important piece of information to know and helps to make up your unique situation.

Finding out your grade is also done by discussion with your doctor and the doctor using your test results and measuring the amount of slippage.

4. How You Got The Spondy

Was it a traumatic accident that involved a fall or contact?

Did it happen over time?

Do you have movement issues leading to access stress and strain?

These are all legitimate questions that need to be understood. The answer also makes your spondy unique.

5. Other Medical Conditions Present

Symbol of

In addition to your spondy do you have stenosis, degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, replacement hips or knees, or osteoporosis? Are you pregnant or recovering from a pregnancy?

Other medical conditions make your situation unique and greatly influence what you can and cannot due in the form of rehab.

6. Previous Injuries

Have you had surgery in the past to repair damage to other places of your body?

How about a torn acl, severely sprained ankle or torn labrum?

Even though past injuries may not directly involve the site of your spondy, they can play a BIG role in how you move for the rest of your life.

7. Your Overall Quality of Movement

How does your body move as a whole?

Can you touch your toes without pain?

Do you have a solid foundation of movement?

Without proper movement performing various exercises and stretches in an attempt to improve your spondy may be a waste of time. It may even be harmful.

Some spondy patients have great movement while others have very poor movement.

If you have yet to have your movement assessed, I highly recommend you do so.

Visit our spondy toolbox to learn about various movement screening options.

8. Your Daily Habits/Hobbies

walking on the beach

Do you enjoy walking on the beach?


Playing with kids or grand kids?

Are you spending hours hunched up in a cubicle, driving a cab or typing behind a desk?

What you do on a daily basis greatly affects not only your body, but also your spondy.

Someone with a grade 1 spondy who walks daily would be very different from someone with a grade 1 spondy who spends 9 hours behind a computer. They would require a completely different approach to improvement.

9. Your Age

Are you a young growing teenager, a middle aged office worker or elderly and retired?

10. How You Handle Pain

Everyone handles pain differently.

Some people experience severe pain with a grade 1 spondy while some have no signs or symptoms what-so-ever with a grade 2 spondy. Your ability to handle pain or how you deal with pain plays a big role when it comes to how unique you and your spondy are.

There are actually more examples of how spondy’s differ from person to person, but these are what I believe to be ten of the most common. These examples and others should all be taken into consideration when someone tries to answer your specific spondy questions.

This is also THE MAIN reason you cannot find that one exercise or one magic stretch that cures all of your spondy pain. Because what works for one spondy patient will not necessarily work for everyone.

This also goes to show why it is so hard to answer what appears to be a very simple spondy question. Take this question I received yesterday for example:

What is the safest form of exercise for my spondy? Should I lift weights, do cardio, do yoga, or just stretch?

This is a great question that many active spondy patients would like to know. And a simple question like this is so hard to answer because it varies so much from spondy patient to spondy patient.

Let’s look at this question by factoring in some of the example listed above….

  • A 34 year old who has a grade 1 isthmic spondylolisthesis with no other medical conditions present, is in good health with great quality of movement and a clean injury history may be able to perform all of the above with no problem.
  • Where as a 42 year old, who has a grade 2 isthmic spondylolisthesis with a bulging disc, is in decent health with average movement quality and a suffered a torn ACL a few years back may find issues with cardio activities, but could handle and find supervised weight lifting and stretching very helpful for his spondy pain.
  • Or, a 65 year old, who has a grade 1 degenerative spondy with stenosis, decent health, poor movement quality, 2 knee replacements and spends most of their day sitting would struggle greatly with all of the activities above.

Lumping all three of these spondy patients into the same basket and prescribing them with the same answers, exercises, or rehab plan would be unfair and would lead to poor percentages of improvement success.

Each example – on the surface – is of someone who has a spondylolisthesis.

But as you dig a little deeper you find so much more about the individuals and their unique traits. These traits should be discussed with your rehab professional to come up with the most appropriate path for your improvement/rehab.

Failing to do so can lead to more pain, more frustration and more time not enjoying life the way it is intended to be.

I encourage you to think about these ten examples and how they apply to you. Also think about how they apply to your spondy specific questions. I hope it will help you to think about your spondy in a new light and open your eyes up to the many ways that make spondy’s unique.

What makes your spondy unique? I would love to hear about it. Please comment below to share your story!

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Leave A Reply (7 comments so far)

  1. Kevin
    3 years ago

    My situation…..53 year old male with grade II spondy diagnosed 23 years ago with no other medical conditions present. Unknown cause, possibly congenital weakness; share similar diagnosis with my brother. Attended eight weeks of PT post diagnosis and have actively managed the spondy through exercise 5-6 days per week. Largely pain free for 15 years, but now dealing with flare-ups over the last 6 months and trying to manage through the same.

    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      Hi Kevin. Thanks for sharing your story. I understand and share your frustration with flare ups. Just when you think you have a hold on this condition, a flare up happens and it can be VERY frustrating and painful. I recommend taking advantage of our free material – especially our Free Ebook. Also, navigate through our blog and read our information about movement and the role it plays on your spondy. In situations like yours- where you have controlled the pain for years, then a flare up happens- it is very possible that your movement or daily habits are affecting how you feel. Thanks again for finding us!

  2. Andrew Marks
    3 years ago

    Hey Justin, any inside info on dry needling or Biofeedback training techniques that have led to reduction in lower back pain or perhaps clients that have been able to return to the gym following either or both? Yes sorry it’s a bit vague.


    • SpondyInfo
      3 years ago

      Hi Andrew. I got in touch with Todd Bitzer – Co-Creator of this website – and asked him your question. Todd is certified in Dry Needling and has seen some great success with his clients using Dry Needling in combination with movement exercises. Here is Todd’s response to your question: “I use dry needling in my practice with good success. However, I don’t use biofeedback nor am I aware of its clinical effectiveness. I’ll say this though, any treatment technique is only as good as the reasoning behind why it’s used. Dry needling may provide short-term relief on its own, but the key is to pair the technique with corrective exercise to reactivate the desired movement patterning. And all of that is dependent on solid assessment to identify what the problem really is.”

      I hope that helps and answers your question. Thanks again.

  3. Kathy
    8 months ago

    Thanks for this site. It’s refreshing to hear that not everyone has to go have a (failed) spinal fusion if they have a Pars break/spondylolisthesis!

    I know the answers to all your questions. I have seen 5 doctors and two physical therapists about it, and I still get no answers to MY questions about whether my condition will get worse, whether I can play soccer (at a recreational level), or even if I can pick up my cats! At what point do I need to get to in order to get some answers?!

    • SpondyInfo
      8 months ago

      No problem Kathy. I understand your frustration and confusion. Many of us have been there or are in a situation similar to yours currently. I encourage you to read through the site, read our newsletter (which is sent to you when you sign up for our free Ebook) and read the comments below blog posts. Sometimes it is best to take things into your own hands and learn as much as you can on your own. Hopefully, you will find a doctor that can provide you with some answers along the way. Thanks for finding us!

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