Spondylolysis is a defect or fracture on one or both of the
wing-shaped parts of a vertebra, usually in the lower lumbar region.
Spondylolysis is usually detected sometime during childhood. It may
occur for one or more reasons.
Some people are born missing part of, or with
damage to, this piece of vertebra.
The wing-shaped parts of the
vertebra may become damaged from strenuous physical activity, especially during
the teen years. Certain types of athletes—particularly weight lifters, football
players, gymnasts, and javelin throwers—are at increased risk for developing this condition. It usually starts as a stress fracture and it never completely
Normal changes associated with aging can weaken this part of
the vertebra, leading to fractures or deformities.
Most people can manage spondylolysis by resting from strenuous
activity, doing stretching and strengthening exercises, and taking pain relief
medicine, such as ibuprofen. Surgery is rarely needed, although it may be
considered for people who do not respond to other treatment.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD