Conditions + Treatments

Spondylolysis in Children

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At Boston Children's Hospital, we know that adolescents who have been diagnosed with an overuse injury such as spondylolysis often feel frustrated about the disruption in their normal athletic routines. Our experienced clinicians will approach your child’s treatment with sensitivity and support, helping him heal as quickly as possible so he can return to sports safely.

What is spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis is a stress fracture that occurs in the lower back. Although some children are born with a genetic predisposition to developing spondylolysis, the injury is more common in adolescents who participate in sports that involve repetitive hyperextension (over-stretching) of the spine, such as gymnastics, football, rowing, and diving.

Download our sports injury prevention fact sheets to learn more.

4.4 percent of all children develop spondylolysis before the age of 6, and 6% have evidence of it by adulthood. In these cases, it does not represent an injury, and younger children who develop spondylolysis often don’t show any symptoms, and the condition might not be detected unless they get an x-ray for a separate problem. 

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches spondylolysis

Experts in the Orthopedic Center at Children's provide comprehensive assessment, treatment and follow-up care to children, adolescents and young adults with spondylolysis and other overuse injuries. Our skilled orthopedists and sports medicine experts work with physical therapy staff to develop long-term treatment and activity plans. Our team has also developed innovative evaluation programs and effective injury prevention programs and strategies. Together, we provide your child with expert diagnosis, treatment and care—as well as the benefits of some of the most advanced clinical and scientific research in the world.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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