Chiropractic management of mechanical low back pain secondary to multiple-level lumbar spondylolysis with spondylolisthesis in a United States Marine Corps veteran: a case report

Adjunct Assistant Professor, New York Chiropractic College, Buffalo, NY 14215.
Journal of chiropractic medicine 10/2009; 8(3):125-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcm.2009.04.003
Source: PubMed


This case report describes the evaluation and conservative management of mechanical low back pain secondary to multiple-level lumbar spondylolysis with spondylolisthesis in a United States Marine Corps veteran within a Veterans Affairs Medical Center chiropractic clinic.
The 43-year-old patient had a 20-year history of mechanical back pain secondary to an injury sustained during active military duty. He had intermittent radiation of numbness and tingling involving the right lower extremity distal to the knee. Radiographs of the lumbosacral region demonstrated a grade I spondylolisthesis of L3 in relation to L4 and a grade II spondylolisthesis of L4 in relation to L5 secondary to bilateral pars interarticularis defects. There was marked narrowing of the L4-5 disk space with associated subchondral sclerosis.
A course of conservative management consisting of 10 treatments including lumbar flexion/distraction and activity modification was provided over an 8-week period. Despite the long-standing nature of the complaint and underlying multiple-level lumbar spondylolysis with spondylolisthesis, there was a 25% reduction in low back pain severity on the numeric rating scale and a 22% reduction in perceived disability related to low back pain on the Revised Oswestry Disability Questionnaire.
Conservative management is considered to be the standard of care for spondylolysis and should be explored in its various forms for symptomatic low back pain patients who present without neurologic deficits and with spondylolisthesis below grade III. The response to treatment for the veteran patient in this case suggests that lumbar flexion/distraction may serve as a safe and effective component of conservative management of mechanical low back pain for some patients with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis.

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