Spondylolysis results when cracks or fractures occur in the pars interarticularis, the portion of the lumbar spine that joins the upper and lower joints together of a single vertebra (individual bone in the spine).
As with any spine condition or deformity, symptoms can vary from patient to patient but generally include the following:
X-ray imaging typically confirms bony abnormality, particular in cases of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. However, with a stress reaction, an x-ray may not reveal any abnormality.
The goals of treatment include relieving pain, decreasing acute spasm, and restoring spinal flexibility. The prognosis is affected by slippage of one vertebra on another (spondylolisthesis).
Most spondylolysis patients will respond well to conservative (nonoperative) medical management. Post-treatment “maintenance” exercises like truncal core muscle strengthening (pilates or yoga) may be prescribed to condition the muscles and minimize reinjury.
If the pain, spasm, or slippage increases despite conservative management, then the surgeon may discuss several potential surgical options with the patient:
1) Spinal fusion (for spondylolisthesis)
2) Pars repair
At times the pars fracture can be repaired without fusing 2 vertebrae together. This involves removing any scar material that may have developed in thefracture site of a single vertebra, and stabilizing the 2 sides of the fracture to restore normal anatomy.
Injury to the pars interarticularis can result in loss of stability and slippage of the vertebrae.
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