Spondylolysis is a stress fracture in one or more of the vertebrae in the spinal column. Spondylolysis is a common cause for lower back pain in active adolescents.

If the stress fracture weakens the bone so much that it is unable to maintain its proper position, the vertebra can start to shift out of place. When left untreated spondylolysis often progresses causing the affected vertebrae to weaken and shift out of alignment, a condition called spondylolisthesis.

Spondylolysis is commonly treated at Orlando Orthopaedic Center using both minimally invasive surgery and non-surgical methods as required by our board certified spine surgeons.

A majority of patients treated at Orlando Orthopaedic Center report an improvement in their condition.

Spondylolysis Symptoms

Spondylolysis typically shows no symptoms and most people don’t even know they have the condition. When symptoms do occur, low back pain is the most common. The pain usually spreads across the lower back, and might feel like a muscle strain. The pain is generally worse with vigorous exercise or activity. Other symptoms include:

  • Buttocks pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Muscle tightness or weakness in the leg (sciatica)
  • Increased sway back or a limp

Spondylolysis Treatment

The initial treatment plan for spondylolysis is rest coupled with the use of anti-inflammatory medications. Continued physical therapy and other non-invasive methods may still be used when a patient first begins showing signs of spondylolisthesis. If the vertebra slippage continues, surgery is generally the next step in the treatment process.

Spondylolysis Surgery

Your spinal specialist will work with you to explore all of your options and identify the most effective and least invasive method possible while ensuring your optimum level of recovery. Surgical procedures that can be performed to treat spondylolisthesis include:


A laminectomy is used to create more room in your spinal canal so that there is space for your spinal nerves. It may be performed in addition to a discectomy, foraminotomy, and spinal fusion. A laminectomy is most often done to relieve the effects of spinal stenosis. The procedure is performed as a minimally invasive surgery to help preserve tissue and to leave more of the muscle intact.


A discectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove a part of a bulging or herniated disc. The disc can cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness from pressing on the spinal nerves or spinal cord. A discectomy is performed to decrease pain and allow you to regain normal movement and function.


A foraminotomy is used to remove the disc fragments, overgrown ligaments and bone spurs from the neural foramen. This increases the space around the neural foramen, a opening in the spinal canal, and relieves the compression of the spinal nerves.

Who Should Consider Spondylolysis Surgery?

Surgery should be considered for individuals who have failed conservative treatment with medications and injections, or those with symptoms that are so severe that they are starting to lose significant function and are at risk for permanent nerve damage.

All risks and benefits of spine surgery should be considered before making a decision. The spine surgeon will discuss all available options and treatments.

Results of Spondylolysis Surgery

Surgery is successful in relieving back pain in a majority of patients. Most with acute or severe back pain benefit more from a foraminotomy or discectomy when nonsurgical methods have been unsuccessful in providing pain relief.