Lumbar stress fractures, also known as spondylolysis or pars stress fractures, cause damage to the vertebrae in the lower back. These injuries are common among high school athletes, who frequently put repeated stresses on the spine at a time when their bodies are still growing. Rest, bracing, and physical therapy are the most common treatments for lumbar stress fractures, giving the bone time to heal as the muscles supporting the spine are strengthened.
Lumbar stress fractures are commonly diagnosed in young athletes—approximately one third of adolescents who play sports will experience at least one episode of back pain. Young athletes at the greatest risk are those who take part in physical activities that cause repeated bending, straightening, and stretching of the spine. Such sports include gymnastics, hockey, soccer, and certain player positions in football. Sports or exercises such as weight lifting also put added stress on the lower spine, leading to microscopic fractures inside the vertebrae and back pain.
In some cases, lumbar stress fractures appear to be an inherited condition. If someone in your family suffered from a lumbar stress fracture, you are at an increased risk for developing a fracture to your spine as well.
Adolescents are prone to growth spurts, during which their height and weight increase at a rapid pace. Following a growth spurt, the spine must readjust to the increased weight of the body while the bones and muscles are still growing stronger to support these changes. In some adolescents, this sudden change in height and weight can lead to weakened vertebrae in the lower spine and lumbar stress fractures.
Suburban Orthopaedics specializes in the treatment of neck and pack pain throughout the Bartlett area. Call us today at (630) 372-1100 to schedule your appointment with one of our orthopaedic surgeons to discuss your pain and find the best treatment for your needs. You can learn more about the common causes of back and neck pain and how our orthopaedic surgeons can help on our blog.