“Spondylo” is Greek for spine and “Listhesis” means slip. A crack in the bony ring of the spinal column is called spondylolysis. If the crack occurs on both sides of the bony ring, the spine is free to slip forward, a condition called spondylolisthesis. Six percent of Americans develop spondylolysis in early childhood. So far there is no definitive cause of spondylolysis. Most physicians agree that the bone defect appears in children mainly due to sports activities that put repeated stress on the pars intra-articularis.
Spondylolysis in athletes is most commonly found in those who participate in sports that have frequent hyperextension of the lumbar spine, such as gymnastics, pole-vaulting, and football. Weightlifters also have a higher incidence of the disorder due to excessive stress on the spine. Spondylolysis does not always produce noticeable symptoms. When it does, chronic low back pain is the most common symptom. The pain can stem from mechanical (structural) or compressive (pressure on nerves) pain.