Understanding Stress Fracture Of Back
A stress fracture in the back is medically termed as Spondylolysis. This perhaps is the most common cause of back pain in teenagers, children and adolescents. A stress fracture of the back is basically a fracture of the spinal vertebra. The most common part of the vertebra where a stress fracture occurs is the pars interarticularis which lies between the superior and the inferior facets of the spine.(1) In majority of the cases, the L5 vertebral level is affected by a stress fracture of the back.
An individual can be born with a stress fracture of the back due to some congenital anomaly. Stress fracture of back can also be a result of degeneration occurring as a result of old age, or it can occur as a result of some sporting injury while playing contact sports.
If a stress fracture of back is left untreated, it may result in the affected vertebral body to slip forward resulting in a medical condition called spondylolisthesis. This may happen in about half of the cases of untreated stress fractures of the back.
An individual with a stress fracture of the back will experience gradual onset of back pain which normally is one sided. This pain will be sharp to start with but will gradually become a dull ache. The pain will be worsened by standing, moving, bending to pick something up, and exercising. The pain sometimes radiates to the lower extremities to include the thigh and the buttocks. The pain is usually relieved with rest.
Some of the common causes of a stress fracture of the back are repetitive activities that require bending and twisting such as in the construction industry. Activities requiring hyperextension of the back also results in stress fracture of the back. Athletes involved in sports like gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling, and swimming are prone to stress fracture of the back. Most of the stress fractures of the back heal completely.
How Long Does Stress Fracture Of Back Take To Heal?
The treatment provided for stress fractures of the back depends on the severity of the symptoms and the cause of the condition. In majority of the cases, with treatment, it takes about 12 weeks for an individual to completely heal from a stress fracture of the back. More serious stress fractures may take a little bit longer time to heal and get back to normal activity. The treatment for a stress fracture of the back is conservative, with pain medications and rest, to allow the bones to heal in almost all the cases.
The chances of recurrence of stress fracture of the back is quite high, especially in children and adolescents, who are far more active in sports and other activities which puts excessive stress on the back than older adults who are not that active.
Thus it is advisable for young adults and adolescents who have had this condition to address the risk factors and address them in order to prevent a recurrence of a Stress Fracture of the Back.
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