Spondylolysis (spon-dee-low-lye-sis) is a stress fracture that occurs in one of the vertebrae in the spine. It often causes back pain in children and teens. In most cases, spondylolysis affects the lowest vertebra of the lower back.
Another condition, called spondylolisthesis (spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis), occurs when the stress fracture weakens the bone so much that the vertebra shifts out of place.
The exact causes of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are unknown. Several risk factors might increase the risk of developing the conditions:
In most cases, pain isn’t a symptom of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. Some kids describe having dull, aching discomfort in the low back that worsens after participating in sports or other physical activities that put stress on the lower back. In severe cases of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis, children might withdraw from physical activities because of significant pain.
Other symptoms might include:
At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, diagnosing spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis includes reviewing your child’s medical history, performing a physical examination and conducting tests that might include:
Gillette specialists typically first recommend nonsurgical spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis treatments to relieve pain and encourage the vertebrae to heal with the best possible spine alignment. Your child’s treatment for spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis might include:
At Gillette, you’ll have access to a team of nationally recognized pediatric orthopedic specialists that understand how spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis can affect health, self-esteem and quality of life. Our goal is to help your child achieve the highest levels of health, independence and happiness.
Your family will work closely with experts on a custom and comprehensive treatment plan that meets your needs. Specialties and services most often involved in caring for kids who have spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis include: