Spondylolysis Bilaterally in Adults

Spondylolysis bilaterally in adults is a condition that occurs when a crack is formed in the bony ring that is located in the back of an adult’s spinal column. The most common place for this to occur is in the lumbar region or the lower back. When spondylolysis bilaterally in adults occurs, the bone responsible for protecting the spinal cord sustains a fracture as a result of either excessive strain or repeated strain. The area that is affected is called pars interarticularis, and so this condition is sometimes referred to as a pars defect.

Spondylolysis bilaterally in adults is not the most common type of spondylolysis, because this condition actually appears in young children and adolescents more than adults. This is because children and adolescents are still experiencing development of their spine, and the pars area happens to be the weakest part in the vertebra. When excess strain is placed on the spine during childhood, the chance that a pars defect will occur is greatly increased.

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When you do see spondylolysis bilaterally in adults, it is typically caused as a result of a repeated strain that is causing damage to the lower spine over a period of time. These repeated strains are capable of eventually leading to a serious overuse injury. The lowest vertebra in your spine, known as L5, is the most common place for spondylolysis bilaterally in adults to occur.

Although in some cases of spondylolysis the crack or damage only affects one side of this bony ring, in spondylolysis bilaterally in adults what you have is a situation where the defect is occurring on both sides (bilaterally) of this bony ring. Unfortunately, when this occurs the vertebra is no longer capable of being held in place and so it is capable of slipping forward, a condition that is known as spondylolisthesis, which is related closely to spondylolysis.

Symptoms of Spondylolysis Bilaterally in Adults

  • You may experience pain as well as stiffness in the center of your lumbar region or lower back.
  • You may experience an increase in bank while bending backward.
  • You may experience a worsening in symptoms with activity.
  • You may experience that your symptoms improve with rest.
  • You may experience pain that specifically radiates down one or both of your legs, which is known as neurogenic pain, leg pain caused by low back pain.

Diagnosing Spondylolysis Bilaterally in Adults

Diagnosis for this condition is going to begin with a physical exam and full medical history. Questions will be asked about your symptoms and about how your daily activities are being affected by the problem. Posture and basic movements will be examined and an X-ray may be ordered for your lower back. Pars fractures are often found through angled or oblique X-ray views. The outline of the bony ring on the X-ray, when fractured, will form an image that resembles a Scotty dog. Small bone defects may not show up in the X-rays however, so a bone scan may be necessary for a proper diagnosis of the problem.

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Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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