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Spondylolysis is a defect in the connection within vertebrae. This defect can lead to small cracks or stress fractures that weaken the vertebrae. Severe cases can cause the vertebrae to slip out of place – a condition called spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolysis is a common source of lower back pain for people under 26 years of age, especially those involved in high-impact sports such as football, gymnastics or weightlifting. The first sign of spondylolysis is persistent back pain that may feel like a muscle strain at first.

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Spondylolysis can range from mild to severe, depending on the strength of your affected vertebrae. It’s possible you may not even have obvious symptoms at first. However, most spondylolysis cases involve lower back pain and other symptoms, including:

  • Pain similar to a muscle strain that spreads across the lower back
  • Pain that radiates down to the buttocks and back of the thighs
  • Pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest

If your stress fractures are severe enough to cause spondylolisthesis, additional symptoms may include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Back stiffness
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Difficulty standing and walking
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in one or both legs

Spondylolysis may not be immediately detectable. To recover from chronic back pain, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a back and neck specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and understand your treatment options.

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The information provided here is not intended for you to self-diagnose. It is our way of letting you know that we understand how to help you. The first step to your relief is to schedule a consultation so we can determine what your underlying condition is and help you to understand your options.

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