Spinal Infections

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: 8/7/2018 11:53:36 AM

From the Newsdesk

January Patient of the Month: Layla
When Layla was 5, she came to Nicklaus Children's Hospital with a severe case of scoliosis. To help straighten her spine, Layla spent time in halo gravity traction. While her mom returned home to Gainesville for work and school, the nurses at Nicklaus Children's took care of Layla, acting as substitute mothers and making sure she was well cared for.
January Patient of the Month: Layla
When Layla was 5, she came to Nicklaus Children's Hospital with a severe case of scoliosis. To help straighten her spine, Layla spent time in halo gravity traction. While her mom returned home to Gainesville for work and school, the nurses at Nicklaus Children's took care of Layla, acting as substitute mothers and making sure she was well cared for.