Spondylolysis is often attributed to overexertion and use by athletes, especially younger athletes. The physical strains put on the body during sports such as gymnastics, football and weightlifting are immense, and this added stress can lead to severe lower back pain.

What is spondylolysis? It’s a stress fracture that most commonly affects the vertebra in the lower back, specifically the fifth lumbar. The stress fracture makes the bone weaker and less able to hold firm to its proper position, often leading to slippage. If spondylolysis goes untreated and the disc is allowed to move substantially, spondylolisthesis can develop putting surrounding nerves at risk. Surgery is often required if the condition progresses to this point.

Spondylolysis may also be attributed to genetics. If, for example, your vertebral bone is thin or your family is prone to sporadic yet substantial growth spurts, both of which can be causes of this condition and subsequent lower back pain.

There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options for spondylolysis. These can include a temporary or permanent cessation from whatever activity is likely causing the condition; an anti-inflammatory medication regimen; back braces for added support; as well as surgeries such as internal bracing or spinal fusion. Of course, surgery is only turned to after all other avenues have been explored.