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What is Retrolisthesis? Causes and Effective Treatments

When a single vertebra moves backward or beneath an intervertebral disc, retrolisthesis is a spinal condition characterized by joint dysfunction. In the cervical or lumbar spine, retrolisthesis develops. As most people don’t know exactly what is Retrolisthesis. However, the issue must be treated promptly and can present with a variety of symptoms.

To get a better understanding of Retrolisthesis definition of how it affects the structure of the spine, let’s look at some fundamental spinal anatomy first.

First, Understand the Spine Working:

As referenced, the spine is comprised of bones called vertebrae. Also, they are rectangular in shape. They stacked on top of each other.

The spine can manage its natural and healthy curvatures to work optimally if the vertebrae remain in a healthy and neutral alignment. But if the spine becomes skewed because of a vertebra moving crooked with the remainder of the spine, issues can happen.

Intervertebral discs will directly separate the vertebrae from one another in the spine. These discs cushion the vertebrae so they don’t rub against each other and cause friction. It will become easy for more flexible movement, absorb and distribute stress. In some cases, it holds the vertebrae together. Because of this, reason Retrolisthesis occurs. Read further to know what is Retrolisthesis in detail first. 

What is Retrolisthesis?

If you want to know the Retrolisthesis definition, then you must know the inline function of the spin. A person can develop a variety of spinal conditions that have an impact on the spine’s structure, function, and overall health.

Retrolisthesis is a rare joint condition in which a single vertebra moves backward alongside or underneath a spinal disc. The condition usually affects the cervical spine. It happens in the neck and shoulder area or the lumbar spine, which is the lower back. It can also happen in the thoracic spine, but it rarely does.

Causes of Retrolisthesis – Why it Happen? 

For a variety of reasons, retrolisthesis patients’ spines will have less space between the vertebrae.

The following things are thought to be some factors, despite the fact that research has not yielded a clear and definitive explanation for why the discs and space below the vertebrae decrease on their own:

  • Issues with spinal degeneration
  • Arthritis and congenital anomalies
  • Spinal injury or trauma
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Spinal conditions like osteoporosis
  • Weak core and spinal muscles 

Treatments for Retrolisthesis Recovery

If you now understand what is Retrolisthesis, then you must want to know about its treatment. Well! The treatment plan will be based on the patient’s age, the cause, the severity of the condition, and how the slippage affects the area around it.

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Non-intrusive treatment:

Non-intrusive treatment can be powerful at expanding strength toward the back and the centre muscles so the spine is better upheld and balanced out.

Target-Specific Workouts:

For improved brain-body connection, targeted condition-specific exercises can activate specific brain regions and increase overall strength and spinal support.

Physical Therapy Techniques:

Techniques like flexion-distraction therapy aim to stretch and decompress the spine. These workouts can be used in chiropractic care to provide gentle and precise adjustments.


According to the Retrolisthesis definition, the inflammation can cause neck and shoulder pain, back pain, tingling and numbness due to nerve compression. It makes a stiff and weak spine, and a noticeable bulge in the spine, depending on the severity of the condition and its cause.

The spinal condition known as retrolisthesis is uncommon. It needs to be treated early and effectively, just like other conditions that are more common. You can keep the condition from getting worse and making severe symptoms appear.

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