Spondylolisthesis: A Common Cause of Back Pain Among Young Athletes
When a stress fracture on one of the spinal vertebra weakens the bone to the point where it starts to shift or slip out of place, the condition is called spondylolisthesis. The condition is common among athletes and can cause radiating pain throughout the lower back area. Texas Injury Clinic in Fort Worth, TX, offers state-of-the-art imaging technology to diagnose the cause of back pain. Our doctors provide noninvasive physical therapy, massage, and chiropractic adjustments to alleviate your condition once it is identified. They also use state-of-the-art technology, such as the DRX9000™, a revolutionary spinal decompression machine to provide relief.
What Is Spondylolisthesis?
When a fracture in the pars interarticularis (wing-shaped part of a vertebra) causes vertebrae slipping, spondylolisthesis occurs. The condition most commonly develops at the base of the spine.
The injury is related to and sometimes results from spondylolysis. Patients with spondylolysis have a crack in the pars interarticularis but no vertebrae slipping. The crack most commonly occurs in the fifth vertebra of the lower spine. Because the pars interarticularis is the weakest segment of the vertebra, it is often more vulnerable to injury from overuse and repetitive wear.
Symptoms of spondylolisthesis include:
- Lower back pain
- Radiating pain down the legs
- Muscle tightness
- Difficulty standing
- Back stiffness
- Tingling or numbness in one or both legs
Spondylolisthesis can occur at any age, but children and teenagers are more susceptible to the condition because their spines are still developing.
Our doctors offer several types of non-surgical spondylolisthesis treatment, such as an advanced spinal decompression machine to provide relief from back pain.
Common Causes of the Condition
There are many potential causes of spondylolisthesis. Some of the more common ones include:
- Genetics: Researchers believe that some individuals are born with spinal bones that are thinner than average. Those individuals may be at greater risk of developing spondylolisthesis.
- Trauma: Injury, sports-related or otherwise, can compromise the structure of a vertebra or weaken it to the point where it is more susceptible to spondylolisthesis.
- Athletics: The wear and physical impact of sports put athletes at a higher risk of developing spondylolisthesis.
- Infection or disease: Certain forms of illness can weaken bones.
- Overextension: Overstretching (hyperextension) of the lumbar spine, particularly through gymnastics and weight lifting, can weaken the pars interarticularis, increasing the risk of fracture.
Sports activity among adolescents continues to be the main risk for spondylolisthesis. While the occurrence of spondylolysis (the most common precursor to spondylolisthesis) occurs at a rate of five to six percent in the general population, it is seen at a much higher rate among young athletes.
Treatments for Spondylolisthesis
Properly diagnosing spondylolisthesis begins with an examination of the patient's medical history. One of our doctors will ask about your or your child’s health and symptoms before giving a physical exam. Our physician will be looking for muscle weakness, limited range of motion, areas of tenderness and other signs of spondylolisthesis. X-rays or other imaging technologies may be used to diagnose the spinal condition.
Most patients who are diagnosed with spondylolisthesis make full recoveries without the need for surgery. Our office believes non-invasive procedures are always preferable. Our treatment plans may include any combination of the following:
- Rest and time away from sports
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Physical therapy
- Bracing through the use of a back brace
- Spinal decompression therapy
Our doctors will closely monitor your progress until a complete recovery is attained.
Restore Your Comfort
Spondylolisthesis is an uncomfortable but highly treatable back condition. To learn more about spondylolisthesis and how it can be effectively treated at Texas Injury Clinic, contact our office online or call (817) 624-7222.