Spondylolysthesis and Spondylolysis

Spondylolysthesis and Spondylolysis are common causes of low back pain in adolescents.

What is Spondylolysis/Spondylisthesis?

  • Common causes of low back pain in adolescents
  • Spondylolysis is a stress fracture in the vertebrae of the low back
  • Spondylolisthesis occurs when that stress fracture becomes weak and unable to maintain its position and the vertebra begins to shift

What Causes Spondylolysis/Spondylolisthesis?

  • These injuries are common in adolescents who participate in activities that involve a great deal of low back extension such as football offensive linemen and gymnasts
  • Overuse

What are the Symptoms of Spondylolysis/Spondylolisthesis?

  • Varying degrees of low back pain, especially with extension
  • Stiffness
  • Some patients may experience pain that shoots into their lower leg or buttocks.
  • Pain that becomes progressively worse over time (back pain lasting longer than 2-3 weeks)

What Can I Do to Feel Better?

  • Rest. Do not do things that cause pain.
  • Ice for 15-20 minutes at a time will help decrease swelling and pain.
  • Compression can be helpful to decrease swelling and pain.

When Should I See a Medical Professional?

  • Back pain that lasts longer than 2-3 weeks.
  • These injuries require a period of rest followed by specialized range of motion and strengthening exercises. 
  • If your child is complaining of back pain after activities, talk to your pediatrician or sports medicine specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
  • If you are uncertain about the severity of the condition.