Retrolisthesis at C3-4

This is a common problem among older, degenerating necks. This MRI scan was of a gentleman in his 70’s. The radiologist noted multi-level spondylosis, which is simply degenerative changes at multiple levels of the neck. Among this man’s degenerative changes, was a retrolisthesis of C3 on C4. Retrolisthesis is when the vertebra above, slips backwards upon the vertebra below. This typically happens because the joint comprised of the two articulating vertebra is anatomically sloped, downward and backwards, and as the disc in-between them degenerates, the vetebra, above, slides backwards and down behind the border of the vertebra below. As I’ve stated in many videos, as your discs go, so goes the rest of your spine. When discs degenerate they lose water, they tear, collapse in height, displace more stress to the bones, as does the progressive ligamentous laxity, which accompanies disc collapse, and then the bones enlarge, deform in a variety of ways, and encroach on the canals in which your spinal cord and nerves reside, pinching them and causing pain and dysfuntion.

Retrolisthesis C3-4

In medicine, we don’t treat retrolisthesis, per say, unless it is very severe, and this one might qualify. It appears to be the most egregiously degenerative problem in this man, and if his pain was severe and unrelenting, this would probably be the recommended surgical treatment, and it would involve a fusion at C3-4.

As I mention is this video, this man doesn’t presently have neck pain, and I don’t recommend treatment, even non-surgical treatment, for a painless lesion. The reason is that there are always some potential risks in treating someone, albeit often very small, and when treating someone without a complaint, it’s not possible to prove a benefit. Nonetheless, there are occasions when a person has some complaint other than pain, and maybe they’re accustomed to it, but they want to experiment, to see what benefits they may derive from spinal decompression for their neck. This is usually for a person who has had previous neck problems. In this context, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for them to try it, and see what benefit may derive.

If I can help you with your neck or back pain, please call me at 404-558-4015.