There may be a hereditary aspect to spondylolysis. An individual may be born with thin vertebral bone and therefore may be vulnerable to this condition. Significant periods of rapid growth may encourage slippage. Some sports, such as gymnastics, weight lifting, and football, put a great deal of stress on the bones in the lower back.
- In many people, spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are present, but without any obvious symptoms.
- Pain usually spreads across the lower back and may feel like a muscle strain.
- Spondylolisthesis can cause spasms that stiffen the back and tighten the hamstring muscles, resulting in changes to posture and gait. If the slippage is significant, it may begin to compress the nerves and narrow the spinal canal.
X-rays of the lower back (lumbar) spine will show the position of the vertebra.
The pars interarticularis is a portion of the lumbar spine. It joins together the upper and lower joints. The pars is normal in the vast majority of children.
If the pars “cracks” or fractures, the condition is called spondylolysis. The X-ray confirms the bony abnormality.
If the fracture gap at the pars widens and the vertebra shifts forward, then the condition is called spondylolisthesis. Usually, the fifth lumbar vertebra shifts forward on the part of the pelvic bone called the sacrum. The doctor measures standing lateral spine X-rays. This determines the amount of forward slippage.