Pars Stress Fracture

Pars stress fractures occur in young athletes involved in repetitive bending and straightening of the spine. They are generally self-limited and get better with rest followed by rehabilitation. A specific stretching and spinal stabilization program is important to allow the athlete to successfully return to his or her sport.

Studies Show:

  • 30% of adolescents involved in sports will have an episode of low back pain
  • Pars stress fracture, also called lumbar spondylolysis, is one of the causes of low back pain in this age group of athletes
  • Athletes involved in sports requiring repetitive bending and straightening of the spine such as football linemen, divers, and gymnasts are most commonly affected
  • Most patients have excellent clinical outcomes with conservative measures, and surgery is rarely necessary

What you should know:

  • Spondylolysis is derived from the Greek word spondylo, which means vertebrae, and lysis, which means fracture
  • Pars refers to the specific part of the spine involved, known as the pars interarticularis, and stress fracture refers to the response of the bone to the stress of repetitive loading
  • The pain can be sharp at first then more dull and achy. It is usually aggravated by standing, bending backward, or repetitively and forcefully extending the spine
  • Plain x-rays, bone or SPECT scans, CT, or MRI have all been used to diagnose the problem
  • Patients are advised to stop the activity or sport that evokes the back pain for up to 12 weeks, and may need a brace if pain is not adequately relieved  

What you can do:

  • A physical medicine and rehabilitation physician (physiatrist) can provide education and treatment options for low back pain experienced during and after pregnancy
  • Treatment prescriptions may include:
    • Ice and heat
    • Bracing
    • Foot orthotics
    • Physical therapy specific to the needs of the changing body throughout pregnancy
    • Exercise to facilitate aerobic fitness without overloading the musculoskeletal system
    • Lessons on how to be safe performing the activities of daily life during pregnancy, labor, and childcare activities (such as lifting baby and car seats, breast feeding, etc.)

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