Back to Action after Surgery for Spondylolysis
Spondylolysis is a term used to describe a defect, or crack, that forms in the bony ring on the back of the spinal column. It is especially common among certain younger athletes, including gymnasts, weight lifters, and football linemen. Most of the time it doesn't require surgery.
Because so few patients undergo surgery, it is unclear what to expect afterwards. Are athletes able to return to their sports? These doctors looked at four of their patients who had surgery for spondylolysis. All four were competitive athletes, ranging from 13 to 22 years old. All four had at least six months of conservative treatment before opting for surgery. They all had the same type of surgery and the same type of rehabilitation.
Within six months, all four patients were working toward going back to competition. By one year after surgery, all four were competing at their former levels. Only one patient reported ongoing problems. He had low back pain, but he continued with his sport.
Such a small study doesn't prove much. But it does suggest that surgery for spondylolysis can have a good result and may help active adolescents get back to their sports.
Charles A. Reitman, MD, and Stephen I. Esses, MD. Direct Repair of Spondylolytic Defects in Young Competitive Athletes. In The Spine Journal. March/April 2002. Vol. 2. No. 2. Pp. 142-144.
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