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: 6/21/2019 2:16:12 AM