Dr. David E. Rogers, MD is a Harvard-trained, board certified orthopedic surgeon, specializing in state-of-the-art treatment of the neck and spine. At The Rogers Spine Surgery Institute in Glendale, CA. Dr. Rogers alleviates spondylolysis pain for patients in Glendale and throughout the greater Los Angeles metro area.
Spondylolysis Q & A
What is Spondylolysis?
Spondylolysis is a weakness in a small segment of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis. The condition leads to small fractures in this area of the spine. In some cases, the vertebra becomes so weakened that it slips out of place, and in into a position where it is pressing on a nerve, causing extreme pain. Injury most often affects the lower (lumbar) spine at vertebra number five (L5). Spondylolysis is common among athletes in sports, such as gymnastics, football, karate and weightlifting that involve constant backward bending of the back. Though adults can suffer from spondylosis, it is most common in children and adolescence, especially athletes. Spondylolysis affects 3% to 7% of children and adolescents in this country.
What are the symptoms of spondylolysis?
Many people experience no symptoms at all and are unaware that they have this condition. However, when symptoms do occur, they almost always involve pain or stiffening in the lower back and/or leg that typically increases with activity and disappears with rest.
How is spondylolysis treated?
Dr. Rogers always advocates beginning with a conservative treatment approach. This typically entails recommending a break from physical activity, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and in some situations, physical therapy. More severe cases may require a brace to help stabilize the back as the fracture heals. Sometimes steroid injections are also used to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. However, if pain is severe and does not respond to these first-line treatments, surgery may be necessary. There are two main types of surgery used to correct vertebra slippage caused by spondylolysis. These are:
A laminectomy: This procedure entails removing a small piece of bone that is applying pressure to the nerve.
Posterior lumbar fusion: This procedure is sometimes required following a laminectomy. It involves fusing a vertebra that has become too unstable.