n International SportMed Journal - Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis in sports : FIMS Position Statement

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



Spondylolysis is a loss of the structural integrity of the vertebral pars interarticularis. The cause of spondylolysis is not yet really clear. It seems to be a congenital dysplasia in the isthmus of a vertebra1 that develops after the birth or a congenital failure of bony closure. Spondylolysis occurs most frequently at the fifth vertebral level (L5), though it can also be found at L4 and very rarely at more proximal levels. In adults, spondylolysis is found in 5 to 7% and many are asymptomatic. It is reported that the frequency is increasing in athletes up to 26.5%3. Spondylolysis is defined as a stress or fatigue fracture of the pars interarticularis caused by recurring trauma resulting from repeated flexion and hyperextension and twisting. These repetitive movements cause a shearing stress to the vertebra resulting in the stress fracture. The developing instability that results can then be exacerbated by sporting activities that emphasise back extension, especially gymnastics, swimming, apparatus gymnastics, soccer, and American football.

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