New Research on Chiropractic, Subluxation and Spondylolisthesis

Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation
New Research on Chiropractic, Subluxation and Spondylolisthesis

First Documented Evidence of Chiropractic Correction of Lumbar Spondylolisthesis  

Recent research reporting on a 69-year-old female with low back pain, severe leg cramping, vertebral subluxation and a grade 2 spondylolisthesis at L4-L5 that showed improvement following chiropractic reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in caring for people with these conditions. It is the first documented evidence of chiropractic correction of lumbar spondylolisthesis in the literature.  The research, reported in the Journal of Radiology Case Reports, includes a review of the literature on spondylolisthesis and its management, and was conducted by researchers working with the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation.

“Research is revealing that structural abnormalities of the spine such as spondylolisthesis secondary to vertebral subluxation can be improved following chiropractic care.” stated Curtis Fedorchuk DC, the lead author of the study. Fedorchuk continued “This case adds to the body of scientific literature suggesting that chiropractic should play an important role in managing people with structural spinal distortions.” 

According to the authors of the study, research suggests that anywhere from 6-31% of the United States population suffers from degenerative spondylolisthesis with females being 5 times more likely to suffer from anterolisthesis than males. Changes in estrogen production and their effect on soft tissue have been suggested as a predisposing factor. 

Douglas Lightstone DC, another author of the study stated “Abnormal spinal alignment and posture are associated with poor general health, physical function, emotional function, social function, and low back pain. Normal spinal curves provide shock absorption and leverage, which protect the spinal cord and nerve tissue from the forces of gravity and other daily traumas one may encounter.” 

The study’s authors point out that abnormal spinal alignment and posture also increase stress and strain to the nerve and blood supply of the spinal cord. This can seriously affect the nervous system. It is a rare phenomenon for resolution of postural abnormalities in the absence of intervention. However, there is literature that supports the effectiveness of chiropractic to restore a healthy spinal alignment and posture according to established normal values, thereby lowering the risk of degeneration and poor health. 

According to the research there is no significant advantage to surgery over non-surgical care in this condition so a conservative non-surgical approach that can reduce the misalignments will not only be beneficial to patients but also to society as a whole from decreased costs. 

The patient reported on in the study was a 69-year old retired female who reported seeing a physical therapist previously for these issues. She also reported the use of pharmaceuticals to help relieve her symptoms including muscle relaxers and antispasmatic agents, to alleviate her leg pain. She stated that she was taking magnesium, potassium, and glucosamine supplements to help address her leg cramps. 

She underwent a chiropractic examination and x-rays which revealed vertebral subluxations and spondylolisthesis. Abnormal position or movement of the spinal vertebra can develop and this can lead to nerve interference. It is this interference, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct. 

She completed 60 sessions of chiropractic care over 45 weeks. Follow-up x-rays showed a decrease in slippage of the L4-L5 vertebra from 13.3 mm to 2.4 mm which is within normal limits. The study’s authors called for additional research to investigate the clinical implications of chiropractic in this population of patients. 



Curtis Fedorchuk DC

Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation