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Got an ache or pain? Have a question about a prescription or over-the-counter drug? Looking for some FREE medical advice?
Question:
After seeing approx. 8 doctors in the last 8 months, I have finally been diagnosed with spondylolisthesis of the back and have pain in the lumbar area mainly to the left. Also my disc is sticking out by 3mm. Can you tell me what type of treatment is usually carried out for this condition and how long it would take. Thank you.
MC 
Answer:
An accurate answer to your question is not possible without us seeing your X-rays and MRI. It is definitely possible to have a protruding disk that does not cause pain (if it does not impinge on any structures of importance) and it is equally possible - and very common - to see spondylolisthesis on an X-ray without this (fairly common) condition being responsible for any pain / symptoms. That said, if the bony slippage is associated with disk protrusion and nerve compression, active treatment may be necessary. The initial approach is always 'conservative' i.e. take a break from the activities that make the pain worse (usually sports), use NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen) to reduce the pain, and, sometimes, the combination of expert physiotherapy (this is not the same as 'therapeutic massage') and a back 'corset' may help significantly. The next step is direct - expertly guided - injection of anesthetic alone or in combination with steroids to reduce pain and inflammation. Surgery may be needed as a last resort especially when the condition is painful enough to interfere with daily life. Surgery usually involves at least excising the disc thus relieving any nerve compression present and at most fusing the adjacent bones so that there is no instability. These are highly expert procedures and should only be recommended and carried out by an experienced orthopedic surgeon. Disclaimer: These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.
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