Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are common causes of low back pain in athletes. Spondylolysis is a stress fracture through a portion of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis. This injury often occurs in athletes who participate in sports that involve repeated stress on the low back. If the stress fracture weakens and is unable to maintain its proper position in the spine, the vertebra starts to shift out of place, called spondylolisthesis.
• Low back pain (feels similar to a muscle strain)
• Pain radiates to buttocks and back of thighs
• Pain worsens with activity and improves with rest
• Those with severe spondylolisthesis may experience numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs
Physical therapy interventions can help patients reduce pain, improve flexibility, strengthen abdominal and back muscles, improve body awareness and mechanics, and return to sport or activities.