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What is spondylolistheses?

Spondylolisthesis is what happens when a vertebra (a bone that makes up the spine) slips out of place; this is different to a slipped disc where one of the discs that sits between each vertebra tears.

There are 4 grades of spondylolisthesis and they vary depending on how much the vertebra has slipped:

Grade I: Grade II: up to 50% slip
Grade III: up to 75% slip
Grade IV: >75% slip

The most common area for spondylolisthesis is L5-S1 which is at the very bottom of your spine where your spine meets your sacrum (tailbone).


What causes spondylolistheses?

Spondylolisthesis can present in children due to a birth defect for example if you have thin bones that are more susceptible to injury in that part of the spine.

Spondylolisthesis is usually caused by wear and tear of the spine in adults, though it can also occur due to a sudden trauma or direct injury.

Less common causes include:

  • A fracture due to a prolonged spinal pressure such as weight lifters and gymnasts or due to sudden injury
  • Bone disease for example Paget’s disease


What are the symptoms of spondylolistheses?

If you have spondylolisthesis you will typically feel more pain when you do things that straighten your spine or lean backwards (extend the spine), particularly if you repeat this activity a lot or if it performed for a long period of time.

Bending the spine forwards may ease the pain.

Other symptoms include: pain, tingling or numbness in your legs (sciatica due to the vertebra pinching a nerve), stiffness, and tenderness in the region, tightness in your hamstrings muscles and a curve in the spine (kyphosis).

The higher the grade of spondylolisthesis the more you will feel your symptoms.


How is spondylolistheses diagnosed?

Spondylolisthesis is often diagnosed with an X-ray investigation. Your physiotherapist can carry out a full subjective and objective assessment and if they suspect you have spondylolisthesis they may refer you to your doctor for scans to confirm diagnosis.

    How is spondylolistheses diagnosed?

    Spondylolisthesis is often diagnosed with an X-ray investigation. Your physiotherapist can carry out a full subjective and objective assessment and if they suspect you have spondylolisthesis they may refer you to your doctor for scans to confirm diagnosis.


    What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for spondylolistheses?

    After your initial assessment you will be given a treatment programme based on what was found on assessment. Each treatment plan is individual and will incorporate your lifestyle and goals. There are several different physiotherapy treatment options available.

    Treatment may include:

    • Electrotherapy
    • Joint mobilisation
    • Soft tissue massage
    • Pilates
    • Graded return to activity
    • Bracing
    • Advice and education
    • Biomechanical correction

    If your symptoms are particularly bad then sometimes surgery is necessary. Surgery involves fusing the vertebra that has slipped to the vertebra next to it using rods or metal screws.


    Benefit of physiotherapy for spondylolistheses?

    Physiotherapy can be very beneficial for spondylolisthesis. The benefit you receive will be different depending on what your original symptoms are and what your goals are.

    Benefits of physiotherapy include:

    • Reduced pain
    • Increased range of movement
    • Increased function
    • Increased strength
    • Decreased stiffness

      Don't let pain win...

      Our Expert Physiotherapists in Witham and Chelmsford specialise in providing the latest treatments and techniques in order to get you pain free as soon as possible, cure the cause of your pain and help you to return to pre-injury levels of activity.

      Furthermore, we'll also give you a bespoke exercise and rehabilitation program, and advise you on how to prevent re-injury and remain pain free.

      Get in touch with us now on 01245 830280 or 07980 898212 or alternatively send us a message.


      At Farrell Physiotherapy we work with some of the uk's top insurance companies to ensure you're covered.

      We can accept payment from AXA (PPP), Bupa, PruHealth, simplyhealth and Standard Life, if you have any questions about alternative payment methods, please get in touch with us using the contact form at the bottom of the page and we'll get back to you asap!


      I recently injured my Achilles Tendon and I was able to get immediate treatment from a very enthusiastic physiotherapist at ‘Farrell Physiotherapy’.  I then had further regular treatment from Ben and continued with the follow-up exercises he gave me to do at home.  I found Ben’s enthusiasm contagious and with the treatment and advice he gave me I have been able to get back to regular activity.  I have been able to play 18 holes of competitive golf 4 days consecutively with there being no issues.


      I was referred to Ben after a road traffic accident for pain in my neck. The service I received was excellent. He not only treated my neck pain but also helped me to correct my bad posture which was not aiding my recovery.
      Ben is extremely friendly and gives a very professional service and I can’t thank him enough for resolving the problem. I would highly recommend him.

      - Carol Joyce


      I am an animal physiotherapist myself and can not recommend Ben more highly. He is the human physio I have been searching so long for!! There are very safe COVID procedures, and a great friendly and efficient environment. Ben makes you feel welcome, explains things perfectly and always ensures you're comfortable.

      Most importantly Ben has enormously helped me with my knees. After having radiographs, an MRI, seeing a NHS and another private physio - none of them could help in that way that Ben did in 6 sessions and continues to do so. I have a long way to go but I have never had any faith that my goals are achievable but with Ben I now do - thank you!!

      - Lauren Hunt


      I have recently completed a course of treatment with Ben Farrell and am pleased to highly recommend him to others. I went to see Ben when I was suffering with extreme pain due to a trapped nerve in my neck which caused pain to radiate into my shoulder, arm and hand. I got an appointment very quickly and Ben was able to diagnose the problem and work on alleviating the pain. Part of the treatment has involved improving my longstanding poor posture which I’ve had since a child and believed was something that could not be changed. Ben has also advised me on how to continue to work on this to avoid this problem from reoccurring in the future.

      - Judith Woosnam


      I visited the practice on personal recommendation following a doctor’s diagnosis of an as then unspecified “shoulder injury”. I had seen my GP as the increasing pain in my arm and shoulder was not only preventing me from lifting my arm above 90%, but was also increasingly stopping me from sleeping at night.

      After an initial diagnosis session where Ben Farrell had quickly identified the actual problem, I then undertook a course of hands on physiotherapy and an increasing program of exercise. In view of the complexity of the problem (which I was advised had been going on for far longer than I has know), the physiotherapy program was, therefore, pretty comprehensive, however, always with excellent support and guidance from Ben along the way.

      I am very pleased with the results and I am now both playing much better golf and getting a full night’s sleep. And, I have no problems lifting my arm its full range!!!! So, the next thing on the agenda will be the golf game at Benton Hall.

      - Stephen


      Before visiting Ben I had been suffering from pain in my achillies tendons, which had stopped me from running my first half marathon. I had previously visited other physios local to me but had made no improvement. On my first visit ,Ben immediately diagnosed that my problem was coming from an old lower back injury. I was impressed that he was determined to treat the root cause of the injury (back) and provide a long term cure, and not just focus on a short term treatment of my achilles. Ben’s friendly but straight talking manner made my visits very enjoyable. I was so impressed that I took my 14 year old son to see Ben when he had an injury prior to a very important football trial. I would not hesitate to highly recommend Ben to anyone .

      - Mike Smith


      Couldn’t have asked for a better service than I got in just 4 weeks I spent with Mr Farrell.

      My first appointment with Mr Farrell was 4 weeks prior to running the London marathon and I was in no fit state to be able to run it due to a knee injury. Mr Farrell gave me a number of exercises to completely daily and a handful of one on one sessions as well. He also advised me on picking a better pair of running shoes to support my foot shape and create less pain in my knee.

      A combination of the hard work put in by Mr Farrell and myself I managed to complete the marathon in just over 4 hours. A great achieve considering I couldn’t run for 4 months prior to the race due to my knee. My only regret was not going to see Mr Farrell earlier! Then I may have be able to probably train for it. Would highly recommend Mr Farrell to anyone, a very professional service and great results.

      - Fraser Murray


      One of the main things I learnt when you treated me was your ability to dispel some of the old chestnuts about joint pain. Through your physiotherapy and advice I now walk more and cycle a lot. I do not rest up when I have a flair up, I do the maximum exercise I can without causing to great a discomfort to my joints. I avoid Painkillers if at all possible.

      I can honestly say that you have helped me to take a new outlook on life. Thank you.

      Ben Farrell was very thorough and professional when I went to him for treatment on my tennis elbow. He treated my posture as well as the elbow. The exercises he taught me both enabled the pain to go away and stay away, thus doing himself out of work! He and all his staff were very pleasant and friendly and I would recommend him unreservedly.

      - Shane Murphy


      Ben is an excellent physiotherapist who provided a considered care plan that enabled me to achieve my goals. Ben in his unique professional and personable manner demonstrated judgement and considerable experience to assist my recovery

      After suffering persistent shoulder pain for several months I went to Farrell Physiotherapy on the recommendation of my husband.

      After only a short course of treatment and undertaking daily exercises I am now pain free.

      I would gladly recommend Farrell Physiotherapy to any person requiring physiotherapy treatment.

      - C Wiltshire


      I received excellent treatment for a foot and knee complaint that I thought would need an operation. It was very debilitating. However, after my course of physiotherapy sessions and continuation of exercises to do at home, I am now pain free and back to my normal exercise routine at the gym.

      - C Dobinson


      I was really happy with my treatment and how the therapist was able to help me really nice guy and very professional.

      - J. Turner


      I recently attended 6 sessions of Physiotherapy with Bradley at Witham. 
      I have to say I thought the service was fantastic. Booking appointments was very easy. 
      Bradley was incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. He was incredibly professional and I have to say I am no longer in any discomfort. Many thanks. I would recommend him to anyone. 

      - M. Dick

      Where we are

      We have two clinic locations within the Essex area. Physiotherapy in Witham and Physiotherapy in Chelmsford, please use the map below to view contact details for the clinic that you would prefer to visit. 

      Opening Hours

      Monday to Friday
      6am to 9pm 
      9am to 12pm
      Same day & Emergency appointments available most times.


      Unit 3b, The Old Coal Yard,
      Little Waltham Road,
      Broomfield, Chelmsford
      CM1 7TG


      Witham Leisure Centre,
      CM8 1EP

      Get In Touch

      If you have any questions prior to booking just send us a message using the form and we'll be in touch asap.

      If you would prefer to talk to us on the phone we can be reached on 01245 830280 or 07980 898212 during business hours.

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