4 Steps To Improve Nagging Pains – Step 1

Spondylolisthesis step one

In the introduction of this series I discussed a new found discomfort and nagging pain I have noticed in my left ribcage that has been expanding up to my neck and shoulder area.

If you have yet to read the introduction you can do so here.

I also laid out a 4-step plan that I am following to improve upon this pain and discomfort.

It is important to keep in mind that this 4-step plan can be used for any type of pain and discomfort. Most importantly, I feel it is very important for spondylolisthesis patients to discover and attack new pains and discomforts early so they do not manifest into something that could eventually affect their spondylolisthesis in a negative way.

As a quick review, here are the 4-steps.

  1. Locate the pain or discomfort and discover the issue.
  2. Reduce the possible causes of the pain and discomfort.
  3. Attack the problematic area with a structured approach of stretching and movement exercises.
  4. Be consistent.

Today we are going to cover Step 1: Locating the pain or discomfort and discovering the issue.


As I explained earlier, I have recently been feeling some tightness and soreness in my left ribcage extending up to my left shoulder area.

My left side has felt significantly weaker during my workouts, my neck has experienced stiffness throughout the day and I can almost feel the tightness and discomfort expanding from my neck down to my hip.

At first I shrugged off the discomfort to age and maybe a past injury, but I soon came to realize this pain and discomfort was most likely the by-product of a few recent habits.

Whenever I am having a nagging pain or discomfort that I believe is muscular in nature, my first step is to head out to a massage therapist to get some work done.

Massage has always been my go to for muscular pain and discomfort that I feel is not quite serious enough to see a doctor. I often seek massage for normal wears and tears along with slight spondy discomfort.

Spondylolisthesis Massage

Massage has always been my go-to for nagging muscular pains.

The massage therapist quickly brought to my attention that my left side was drastically overworked and tight (this I already knew so it was nice to get confirmation).

My shoulders, neck and upper back were also extremely tight and in my therapist’s words they were in “a constant state of shrugging”.

I have always focused hard on my spondy and accompanying issues (hips and core). And because of this I spend a decent amount of time focusing on exercises and stretches to address these issues.

One downside of this is I often pay less attention to other places – such as my shoulders and neck. And this is an important lesson….

Even though you have spondy pain you should not ignore other signs of discomfort.

In my case -the culprits of my new found pain?

A nasty concoction of a new laptop, extended computer time and a young child.

The massage therapist asked several questions in regards to my daily habits. Two questions that grabbed my attention:

  1. If I did lots of computer work?
  2. Was I holding a baby often on one specific side?

My answers were “yes” and “yes”.

Earlier this year I purchased a new laptop and I have been spending more time than ever working on this computer. My therapist explained to me that laptops are the worst for posture as they force you to hunch over, reach for the keyboard and sit in a very awkward position that encourages hunched or shrugged shoulders, shortened chest muscles and extended upper back muscles.

laptop lead to poor posture

Laptops can force users to lean forward in an attempt to reach for the keyboard. This can lead to poor posture over time if you are not careful.

This in combination with always holding a young baby (on my left side) has led to a constant stress and strain on the areas that I have been feeling discomfort.

I am also pretty confident that swinging a golf club in the same repetitive way thousands of times over the years has also contributed to the pain.


This trip to the massage therapist helped to open my eyes to the fact that as we age and go through changes in our lives and daily habits we subject our bodies to new stresses that can lead to movement changes and new challenges for our body.

It is especially important for us as spondylolisthesis patients to stay on top of these changes and stressors and to keep our bodies moving as efficiently and as pain free as possible.

The first step in doing this is to listen to your body and seek out a professional opinion to help you discover where the affected areas could be (they may not always be at the site of the pain). This will also help to pinpoint the possible culprits of the pain. 

There are several ways you can do this:

  1. Seek out a certified specialist to observe and analyze your overall movement.
  2. Visit your doctor and discuss the pains and discomfort.
  3. Set an appointment to visit a chiropractor.
  4. Give a massage therapist a call.
  5. Visit a physical therapist.
  6. You can give acupuncture a try.

All of these methods can help you discover where the underlying causes of your pain and discomfort may be coming from.

One piece of advice is to ALWAYS mention your spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis diagnosis to them prior to visiting.

Some people are uncomfortable working with spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis patients only because they are unsure or scared to cause further harm.

Another piece of advice is to make sure you visit your doctor first if you believe the pain and discomfort to be serious. Often times the other professionals listed will refer or recommend you see a doctor if they think the issue is serious, but it is always a safe practice to see a doctor first when in doubt.

So now that you know my discomfort and how I discovered it, I would love to hear what discomforts and pains you are currently suffering from.

Next up is the second step of my 4 steps to improving nagging pain, but until then comment below with any nagging pains you may have.

I would love to hear about them!


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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. Carolyn
    1 week ago

    I was diagnosed with spondylolistheses in March 2012. The pain was excruciating (in my back and down one leg into my foot). My doctor sent me to rehab where I learned how to perform core exercises. I felt much better after a few weeks. Now I continue to do a condensed version of these core exercises every morning. I’m happy to tell you that I have virtually NO pain now in my back or sciatic nerve. Once in a while I have a little flare-up, but it is nothing like the original pain.

    I find your articles interesting and inspiring.

    • SpondyInfo
      3 days ago

      Thanks so much for sharing Carolyn!

      Its great to hear stories of improvement and I hope your comment is an encouragement for others.

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