- Patient Care
- Pediatric and Adolescent Orthopedic Surgery
- Pediatric Spine Patient Education Overview
- Spondylolysis/Pars Defect
A pars defect or spondylolysis is a stress fracture of the bones of the lower spine. These fractures typically occur due to overuse. They can be on one or both sides of the vertebrae. It is a common cause of low back pain in children and adolescents. The most common cause of low back pain is muscular, secondary to overuse or deconditioning.
What causes a pars defect/spondylolysis?
Pars defects are caused by overuse of the low back, mainly from sports that involve repetitive back bend-like motions. Examples include: gymnastics, football, diving, etc. Sometimes children are born with a very thin pars area which puts them at increased risk for this injury.
What are the symptoms of pars defect/spondylolysis?
Initially children may not have any symptoms. In teens, the main symptom is low back pain that worsens with activity and improves with avoiding the sport/activity that causes repeated back bending. Symptoms can progress to interfere with normal daily activities.
How is it diagnosed?
A diagnosis is made with physical exam, x-rays, and occasionally a bone scan. In some cases a CT scan is needed for further assessment and planning.