Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

At the Children’s Health℠ Andrews Institute Spine Center, the only pediatric spine institute in North Texas, combines expert care with cutting- edge treatments to get your child back in the game, or on the balance beam, as quickly as possible. Our physical therapists and physical rehabilitation medicine specialists will work with your child to help prevent repeat injuries.

What is Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are common overuse injuries caused by frequent hyperextension of the lower back. This may happen when children play sports such as gymnastics, football or wrestling often. Overuse injuries in children who play sports are on the rise. Some children who have a spinal birth defect may be more vulnerable to these types of injuries.

What is Spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis is a stress fracture of a vertebra (spinal bone) usually in the lumbar (lower back) region. Spondylolysis is found in about 5 percent of the general population, and in about 6 percent of young adults. Fortunately, many of those with the condition don’t experience any symptoms. Those who do usually complain of lower back pain or stiffness.

What is Spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis is when the fractured bone enables a vertebra to slide forward. It’s most commonly caused by untreated or worsening spondylolysis, and it can compress nerves in the spine and lead to intense pain in the lower back.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Hamstring spasms
  • Leg pain
  • Foot numbness and tingling

How is Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis diagnosed?

Advanced imaging

Diagnosing spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis at the Spine Center, we use advanced imaging capabilities to diagnose bone fractures and vertebrae slippages, which are not always apparent on an x-ray. All our imaging specialists are specially trained pediatric radiologists who take every precaution to make sure your child is always exposed to the lowest amount of radiation possible.

How is Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis treated?

The team of experts at the Children’s Andrews Institute Spine Center is experienced in treating stress fractures and other sports-related injuries. We start with the least invasive treatment option and consider surgery only as a last resort. The first course of treatment for a stress fracture or vertebral slip is usually rest.

Other treatment options include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy (PT)
  • Bracing
  • Surgery, only if slipped vertebra or pain worsens

Learn more about diagnosis and treatment.

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis Doctors and Providers