It is a unilateral or bilateral (one or both sides) bony spinal defect involving the pars interarticularis of a vertebrae. The pars is a junction between three parts of a vertebra (lamina, pedicle, articular facet) which when overloaded can result in a spondylolysis. This most commonly, 95% of cases, occurs at the lowest L5 spinal segment.
The mechanism of developing a spondylolysis is usually a combination of repeated lumbar flexion, extension, or rotation creating a compressive shearing force at the symptomatic spinal level. Repeated trauma over time leads to and insidious onset of unilateral or bilateral lower back pain commonly exacerbated with extension. Other factors which can contribute to spondylolysis are poor posture, poor biomechanics, overtraining and poor technique.
Who is at risk?
Spondylolysis is estimated to affect 6-8% of the general population but has a much higher incidence in a young adolescent sporting population. It is typically encountered in sports putting large amounts of stress through the lumbar spine such as cricket, gymnastics, football and tennis.
Spondylolysis is a very manageable condition with good treatment outcomes. Treatment will involve correcting underlying neuro-muscular dysfunction, correcting bio-mechanical issues, technique modification, temporary reduction/cessation of aggravating activities and specific spinal and pelvic strengthening /control exercises. Your physiotherapist at Corio Bay Health is expertly trained in the assessment and management of this condition.