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Student Case Study: Spodylolisthesis



Objectives: To study and record the efficacy of: neuromuscular therapy (NMT), specific postural and breathing exercises, and the use of an inversion table; in the treatment of chronic back pain associated with a grade 3 Spondylolisthesis.

Methods: A 35 year old male with a grade 3 Spondylolisthesis presents with persistent chronic back pain that limits his capacity to do his work as an internet marketing agent, networker, and entrepreneur. Treatment intervention consisted of 2 sessions weekly over a 5-week period by a student massage therapist. Each session was approximately 5 minutes of interview, 15 minutes of postural assessment, and 40 minutes of manual therapy in the form of neuromuscular therapy. Once a week this was followed with the use of an inversion rack for 2-3 intervals of 1-2 minutes and then instruction on how to perform a few simple breathing and postural exercises.

Results: Pain reduced from 7.25 to 3 out of 10 by the end of the 5 week study. Average pain reduced from a 7 prior to the study to a 5 out of 10 throughout the duration of the study. Height in centimeters increased by 1.3 cm from 176.5cm to 177.8cm by the end of the five week study. Lung capacity improved from 3250ml to 3500ml by the end of the 5 week study. Patient reports: more energy, improved activity level, sleeping 8-10 hours per night (compared to 12 hours / night or more before study), playing first game of golf in over a year, being more productive and working more, and a generally improved quality of life.

Conclusions: Every objective measure used to track the progress of this patient showed significant improvement at the conclusion of this conservative 5 week study. The patient’s self-reported subjective overall life quality dramatically improved by the end of the study. The patient states being very pleased with the results achieved with the therapy used in this study, especially in comparison to his previous 19 years of trial and error with little to no improvement having been made, and has a strong desire to continue pursuing this type of treatment. Improving the posture and breathing patterns of patients suffering from a spondylolisthesis with the use of neuromuscular therapy, inversion therapy, and the regular practice of specific breathing and posture focused exercises seems to be an effective approach to reducing the pain and fatigue associated with this condition as well as improving the patient’s general quality of life.

Keywords: Spondylolisthesis, Sciatica, Low Back Pain, Lung Capacity, Posture, Chair Pose, Inversion Table, Vacuum, Transverse Abdominis Activation

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