My diagnosis: Spondylolisthesis

Nope. That’s not a typo.

Spondylolisthesis is the diagnosis for my chronic back pain. The word spondylolisthesis derives from two parts: spondylo which means spine, and listhesis which means slippage. So, basically, spondylolisthesis is a forward slip of one vertebra relative to another. 

And let me tell you, it feels about as fun as it sounds.

If you follow my social media accounts, you know that for the past two and a half years I’ve been dealing with intermittent bouts of life-altering back pain. As a regularly active individual, this diagnosis has been depressing, to say the least. No running, no jumping, no lifting, no bending, no extending, no sitting for extended periods of time, no standing for extended periods of time, no…you get the idea.

And the hard part? I didn’t DO anything to cause it. Spondylolisthesis just happens - sometimes it’s genetic, other times it’s related to overuse and physical activity involving excessive extension (but no, I am not and was never a gymnast).

The really hard part? The solution - short of surgery which (due to it’s fairly low long-term success rate) is the absolute LAST resort, is to simply manage the pain and discomfort with the understanding that until my spine becomes arthritic and stiffens due to age, I’ll likely never be completely pain free.

As you can imagine, it’s not a very comforting prognosis.

I’m currently on week 5 of 8 weeks of prescribed REST including three 10 minute walks a day, followed by sitting/standing intervals every 20-30 minutes. And the results have been…less than impressive.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m not giving up.

In fact, I called my specialist last week to say, “I have followed your directions with 100% compliance and after 4 weeks, have observed little to no improvement. What’s next?”

Do you want to know what he said?

“Nicole, I don’t need you to follow my directions with complete compliance. What I need is for you to listen to your body. Observe the movements that flare your pain - do less of those. Observe the positions that provide relief - do more of those. Listen to what your body is telling you and be vigilant. No one can know your body better than you can.”

I ended the phone call, in tears, because, more than anything, I so desperately wanted a plan, guided instruction. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do in order to find relief and reach my goal of being pain-free.

As soon as the thought left my brain I quickly made the parallel between wanting an easy “do this, not that” solution and the requests of my Nutrition Coaching clients asking me to tell them what to eat/what not to eat in order that they might reach their health, body composition and fat loss goals.

And it got me thinking…why are we so hesitant to listen to our own bodies and apply what they teach us? Why do we hastily look elsewhere before searching inside ourselves for the answers we seek?

IT’S TIME we stop looking for answers from everyone else and begin to reclaim our own bodies. IT’S TIME we learn how to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us. IT’S TIME to align our actions with what we need - not as a result of the suggestion or expectation of anyone else.

IT’S TIME! Now, more than ever.

Are you ready to learn how to listen - really, truly listen to what your body is asking (perhaps, begging) of you?

Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.