Spondylolysis is the weakening or stress fracture in one or more of the vertebrae. Although it can occur in young children with no known injury, it most often occurs in adolescents who engage in sports that involve repeated stress on the lower back. In severe cases, the bone may weaken to the point that it is unable to maintain its proper position, resulting in a slipped disc. If this occurs, it is called spondylolisthesis.
There are both activity and genetic components to developing spondylolysis. For most patients, and if caught early, it can be treated non-surgically with rest, bracing, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatories. In most cases, the patient can gradually return to activity although they will need to continue a home exercise program and have regular checkups to ensure the condition does not redevelop.