Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

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Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Difference between Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis 

Spondylolysis (spon-dee-low-lye-sis) and Spondylolisthesis (spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis) are the most common causes of lower back pain in young people.  Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis refer to two different conditions in the lumbar spine which is situated in the lower back. However, both cause pain in the lower back vertebrae.

Spondylolisthesis is when one vertebra slips out of place over the vertebra below.

Spondylolysis is a crack or stress fracture in one of the lower back vertebrae. Spondylolysis can cause spondylolisthesis if the cracked or fractured vertebra slips out of place or cause the vertebrae above or below to slip out of place.

Anyone can develop both Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis. However, they are more likely to occur in young people who participate in sports such as gymnastics, football, and weight lifting.  This is mainly due to the stress these sports place on the lower back due to exaggerated back extension (bending backwards) while the kids bones are still growing, especially during a growth spurt.

A lot of people including children have Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis and are unaware they have it as both these conditions do not have any obvious symptoms.


  • low back pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms
  • pain radiating down one or both legs), or numbness
  • Leg pain will usually be worse back with extension

Treatment for Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Most people with Spondylolisthesis get better by resting and doing specific rehab exercises that aim to strengthen their core and glutes. But please do not self-diagnose if you suspect you have either Spondylolysis or Spondylolisthesis. The only way of really knowing is to get an X-ray and then follow a treatment plan designed by your practitioner. Only in rare cases is surgery needed to fix the condition.

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