Spondylolysis happens when a crack forms in the bony ring on the back of the spinal column. Most commonly, this occurs in the low back. In this condition, the bone that protects the spinal cord fractures as a result of excessive or repeated strain. The area affected is called the pars interarticularis, so doctors sometimes refer to this condition as a pars defect.
Although spondylolysis can affect people of any age, children and adolescents are most susceptible. This is because their spines are still developing, and the pars is the weakest part of the vertebra. Placing extra strain on this area of the spine during childhood increases the chance that a pars defect will occur.
- Genetic weakness of the pars interarticularis
- Repeated stress fractures caused by hyperextension of the back
- Traumatic fractures
- Repeated strains
- Commonly occurs in young gymnasts
- Low back pain
- Aggravated by arching, standing or pars “stress” activities, especially with increased training.
- Pain may radiate to buttock or thigh.
- Normal neurological signs.
- Pain eased by rest.