Spinal Instability

Jessica Farrell, PT, DPT Counterstrain Portland
Portland, Oregon


When you have spinal instability in a portion of your spine there is excessive motion between two or more of your vertebra. Spinal instability includes the diagnoses of spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis. Spondylolisthesis is the slipping forward of one vertebra in relation to the vertebra beneath it. Spondylolysis is a fracture of transverse process or “wing” of the vertebra. Spondylolysis can cause spondylolisthesis so you may have both. With spinal instability it is possible for nerves to be pinched by the unstable vertebra causing pain radiating into your buttocks or leg. Spinal instability is caused by a failure of one or more of the subsystems that keep your spine stable. This includes the bones and ligaments that makes up the spinal column, the muscles that control the spine and the nervous system that controls these muscles. When these systems fail excessive movement develops and that excessive movement causes further degeneration and pain. Fascial Counterstrain (FCS) can help address the impaired systems and improve alignment and stability in your spine.

Fascial Counterstrain Treatment

FCS treatment addresses dysfunction in your deep connective tissue or fascia. Fascial dysfunction can impact all of the systems that contribute to spinal instability including the bones and ligaments of the spine, muscles of the spine and the nerves that control these muscles. FCS uses a combination of gentle tissue glides and comfortable positioning guided by a system of tender points to drain swelling and improve the mobility of tissues. In the case of spinal instability FCS can restore normal resting length and tone of spinal muscles, bones and ligaments and improve neural control of the muscles. In addition, FCS can help treat your venous and lymphatic system to help reduce inflammation and swelling in the painful area and increase blood flow via the arterial system to promote healing and prevent further degeneration. Using this multi system approach FCS is a powerful tool to decrease pain and optimize the environment in your spine for healing.