Children's Hospital Colorado

Spondylolysis

What is spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis is a condition that occurs when a child sustains a stress fracture to one of the vertebrae of the spine. It usually occurs at the fourth or fifth lumbar vertebrae in the low back.

Who gets spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis can be caused by both hereditary factors and activity. A child who is born with thin vertebral bones may be at higher risk for developing spondylolysis. In addition, a child who is active in sports such as diving, gymnastics, football and any sport that puts stress on the low back due to hyperextension may develop spondylolysis over time. 

The importance of early treatment and diagnosis

If spondylolysis is not treated or diagnosed early, it may develop into a condition known as spondylolisthesis.