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Spondylolysis – an Issue for Adolescents

Spondylolysis is a condition that is also known as pars defect, as it is a weakness or defect that typically occurs in the pars interarticularis of the vertebral arch. It often occurs in the lumbar vertebrae, or L5, but it can also occur in other lumbar or thoracic vertebrae. Spondylolysis is often discovered in adolescents aged 10-15, especially athletes. Spondylolysis can lead to spondylolisthesis, which is the slippage of one or more vertebrae.

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Spondylolysis Symptoms

This condition can often go undetected. The most common symptom is low back pain that could possibly be confused with muscle strain.

Spondylolysis Causes

  • Rapid growth spurts
  • Heredity – a patient could be born with thin vertebral bone
  • Improperly healed vertebral stress fractures
  • Activities like gymnastics, football and weight lifting that place a large amount of stress on the spine

Spondylolysis Treatment Options

The first option for spondylolysis treatment is always nonsurgical. The patient will be asked to cease physically stressful activities until symptoms subside. Pain medication, including anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, is often recommended.

In more extreme cases, bracing or physical therapy may be necessary. In order to prevent further complications it is recommended that patients undertake a routine of strengthening exercises and stretching.

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