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Could Your Low Back Pain Be Spondylolysis?

Feb 08, 2024

About 619 million people around the world live with low back pain, one of the leading causes of disability globally. If you’re one of those 619 million, you know how profoundly back pain can impact your life. Finding lasting relief starts with identifying the source of your pain.

At Florida Pain Management Institute, Dr. Adam Shestack, Dr. Cy Blanco, Dr. Joshua Powers, and their team of pain management experts know there are numerous causes of low back pain. Here they highlight one: spondylolysis.

What’s spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis is characterized by a stress fracture or defect in the pars interarticularis, a small, bony segment connecting the facet joints in the spine. 

This condition, sometimes called pars interarticularis defect, commonly affects the lower (lumbar) spine and can lead to chronic low back pain.

Are you dealing with spondylolysis?

The only way to know for sure if you’re dealing with a stress fracture in your back is through a physical exam, a review of your symptoms, and diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays. You might, however, suspect you’re dealing with spondylolysis if you notice:

Persistent pain

Spondylolysis often manifests as chronic, dull lower back pain. This discomfort may worsen with certain activities or movements and improve with rest.

Pain that radiates

In some cases, the pain from spondylolysis radiates into the buttocks or thighs, often due to nerve compression or irritation.

Certain postures increase or decrease pain

If you have spondylolysis, you may find that specific postures help mitigate your pain. That can include a forward-leaning stance or a noticeable swayback posture.

On the other hand, some postures or activities can make your pain worse. Activities that involve hyperextension of your lower back, such as standing or walking for extended periods, may exacerbate your pain.

Are you at risk of spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis can happen to anyone, but you’re more at risk if:

You participate in high-risk sports

Because spondylolysis is an overuse injury caused by repetitive hyperextension or arching of the back, you may have a higher risk if you participate in sports such as gymnastics, football, weightlifting, or volleyball. 

Your work requires heavy lifting

Activities or occupations involving constant stress on your lower back can contribute to the development of spondylolysis. These include heavy lifting or activities with frequent bending. 

To reduce your risk of stress fractures (and muscle strains and herniated discs), adopt safe lifting practices.

What to do if you have spondylolysis

If you suspect you have a stress fracture in your lower back, our team can confirm the source of your pain and create a plan that’s right for you. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Rest 
  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Pain management 

Surgery typically isn’t needed for spondylolysis. 

If you have low back pain, schedule an appointment by phone or online today at Florida Pain Management Institute to explore your pain management options. We’re conveniently located in Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, Florida.