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Spondylolysis

Spondylolysis is a spinal stress fracture in the adolescent population. This is one of the most common causes of back pain in adolescents. It is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine) though can happen in the neck (cervical spine) also.

What Causes Spondylolysis


While our bones are developing they may not be able to take as much force as an adults. If high levels of force are repetitively placed through the spine (fast bowling at cricket, gymnastics etc) then children and adolescents can push their bodies to the point where they have a bony injury. Similar injuries can also occur after a specific trauma or injury to the site.

Do I have a Spondylolysis?


You may do- in fact 4-6% of the population will have evidence of this on scanning without pain. It is however very important to identify these injuries and treat appropriately in the younger population. If you have a child who is complaining of back pain it is always worth having a doctor or physiotherapist assess this. They may order scans if appropriate to confirm diagnosis and gauge the extent of the injury.

Treatment


This depends on the extent of the injury but the key is usually to identify this early and give your child’s back the appropriate environment to heal. This is an overuse injury- so rest from the activities that irritate their back is a fantastic place to start. A discussion with a specialist may be warranted. Your child will need physiotherapy also to ensure a graded return to doing the sport they enjoy. We also know that a weak core and tight hamstrings can be a factor in increasing risk of this injury.

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