What is Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

Also known as: Spondylolysis, Spondylolisthesis

What are Spinal Infections?

When a teen athlete has lower back pain, the most common causes are spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.

  • Spondylolysis - This condition involves a stress fracture in a vertebra in the lower spine.
  • Spondylolisthesis - This condition is the progression of spondylolitis. The small fracture weakens the bone, causing the vertebra to shift out of place.
 

Causes, Incidence and Risk Factors

  • Some children are born with a congenital predisposition to develop these conditions.
  • For others, it is caused by stress to the spine caused by sports such as gymnastics, dance, weight lifting and football.
 

Symptoms

  • The most common symptom is pain that spreads across the lower back.
  • Pain may feel like muscle strain.
 

Diagnosis and Tests

Spinal infections are usually diagnosed following:

  • X-ray of the lower back
  • An MRI or CT scan
  • EOS Scan 
 

Treatment of Spinal Infections

Nonsurgical Treatment

  • Taking time off from sports activities to allow healing to occur.
  • Use Ibuprofen to reduce pain.
  • Use of a back brace, if recommended.
  • Stretching and strengthening exercise may help prevent reoccurrence.


Surgical Treatment

  • Orthopedic surgery may be needed if vertebra continue to slip and does not respond to nonsurgical care.

Reviewed by: Stephen Graham George Jr., MD

This page was last updated on: 5/22/2018 1:04:43 PM

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Haley's Success Story
07/03/2018 — Growing up, Haley Gantt suffered from scoliosis. She had to wear a back brace to prevent her curve from worsening, but unfortunately, she was later told that a spinal fusion surgery would have to be considered because the brace had failed to prevent the curve from progressing. She fought hard and got through it. An accomplished basketball player, Haley is now on her way to playing Division II basketball for Biola University in Southern California.
April Patient of the Month: Lucky
04/09/2018 — Lucky started going to physical therapy when he was two because of the delays with sitting up and rolling over. His physical therapist noticed that the problem was not muscular but skeletal, a condition that she couldn't treat. The pediatrician told Janie and Greg, Lucky’s parents, about Nicklaus Children's Hospital. When Janie and Greg visited Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, they met Dr. Harry L Shufflebarger, Pediatric Spinal Surgery Director. He performed the necessary surgeries and now Lucky can enjoy a healthy life.

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Stephen George, MD of Nicklaus Children's Hospital is a pediatric spine surgeon at the Center for Spinal Disorders. He explains about the different types of scoliosis.