Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Also known as: Vertebral stress fracture or crack, vertebral shift or slip

What is Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

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 of Spondylolysis or Spondylolisthesis

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.

What are the symptoms of Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

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:

What are the treatments for Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

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: January 27, 2023 01:13 PM

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