Spondylolysis is an overuse condition of the lower back that can be essentially a stress reaction, or even a stress fracture, of small parts of the vertebral bodies in the lumbar spine. This back injury is commonly seen in football players and gymnasts. It occurs from repetitive extension of the back, such as when linemen have to block and put their lower backs in extended positions. The athlete often complains of worsening pain in the lower back with sports.

Treatment and return to sports with spondylolysis

Typically, the pain from spondylolysis improves without surgery. Usually it is helpful to hold the athlete out of sports that worsen the pain. When his pain decreases to the level that he can start physical therapy, rehabilitation focuses on strengthening and stretching the abdominal muscles, the lumbar spine muscles, and other core muscles. Return to sports can take several weeks to many months.

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