Well done if you can!  I personally still find it a bit of a tongue twister.

The anatomy geeks out there will know exactly what this is, but for those of you who’ve never heard of this or are a bit rusty on the old anatomy front, to quote fellow yogi, Jennifer Aniston from her classic L’Oreal commercial, “Here’s the science bit”:

“The term spondylolisthesis refers to the anterior slippage of one vertebra on another, most commonly L5 on sacrum or L4 or L5.  This can be caused by a fracture of the ‘pars interarticularis’; often the result of high impact falls as in a skiing accident.  It can also be a congenital defect’” – Chris Swain

Chris is the anatomy guru from my YTT course – an award-winning osteopath and a yoga practitioner and teacher for over 20 years. He even has a name given to him by his teacher who he lived with in a temple (though he told us he never uses it now – probably not so necessary at home in the UK, but that’s by the by).  Basically, Chris knows his stuff.

Anyhow, it looks like spondylolisthesis might be what has been causing my sciatica according the x-rays I saw of my spine in the chiropractor’s consultation room.  In my case it looked like L5 had slipped onto S1, hence the pressure on the sciatic nerve.  I also noticed a nice ‘S’ shaped curve in my spine – right thoracic scoliosis – an unexpected, though not entirely surprising bonus.

“I have a tilted womb – welcome to getting older world! Can I be in your gang?” 

That was one of the first responses I got from a friend after sharing the news. This is why I love my mates.

Pain is a great motivator and it was pain that got me to chiropractor’s office.  In the month or so running up to final YTT assessments backbends had gone from slightly uncomfortable to definitely painful.  (As it happens, extension of the spine – backbending – is contra-indicated for spondylolisthesis, which would explain the pain I was experiencing.) After the best part of three frustrating years of trying to confirm the cause of my sciatica and patching myself up in between, this was the final straw.  Yoga is the only thing that has consistently helped, but now I needed to take some other action.

Maybe because I am in denial or maybe because I am stubborn, I am getting a second opinion.  I want to be absolutely sure about what’s going on so that I can make an informed decision with regard to what to do about treatment.  I’ve just had more x-rays done, at hospital this time, and get those results back with my doctor in about a week’s time.  Though before I went to get changed out of the rather flattering hospital gown after the x-rays were done, the radiographer did comment, “Oh yeah, you can see the scoliosis straight off”.   I suspect she wasn’t meant to say this, as when I asked if she saw anything in the lumbar spine area she got a bit flustered and mumbled something about just seeing the curve of my lower back.

Crap.  Is that a bad sign?  That got me really paranoid about what she did or didn’t see on the x-rays…

I’m having an MRI scan tomorrow which I am really glad about.  It should confirm what’s going’s on – whether it is definitely spondylolisthesis or something else.  But I’ve started to feel a bit anxious about it.  Not about the scan itself though. I’ve started to wonder about the potential outcomes and what that might mean for me teaching-wise.  I know my mind should not be racing ahead and speculating, but this wasn’t quite the situation I had envisaged right after graduation.

My practice has changed over the past weeks – less frequently and certainly no backbends, for now. And no dynamic practices which has been frustrating.  It’s shown me in a big way just how attached I’ve become to my physical practice.  And with other stresses going on in my life, my practice – the thing I would usually count on – is in flux.  And I don’t feel comfortable with that yet.

I went to a class recently where the teacher said that injury can be a gift.  An opportunity to re-focus. That’s how I am trying to see this time.  The learning never stops and, I feel, there are some new lessons for me to learn here.