I will explain these two conditions more simply, and then I will provide for a more detailed and scientific explanation. Spondylolysis is the condition of a small crack or hairline fracture that occurs at the back of one or more of the vertebral bones, and Spondylolisthesis is the result of what happens when the crack widens enough to cause some amount of back pain symptoms or dysfunction. Let's look at the two conditions further, and how to treat them pharmacologically, with physical therapy, and with surgery.
Spondylosis. When you put the two Greek roots together to make, you get Spondyl which means "vertebra" and olysis which means "loosen. " Loosen Vertebra explains what happens as a result of this condition - one or more of the vertebra of the spine becomes loose because a section of it has cracked or developed a hairline fracture. Spondylosis is thus a defect of a vertebra, usually as a result of a genetic predisposition to fracture combined with an accident or chronic activities that put too much pressure on the backs of the vertebral bones. The last of the lumbar vertebrae (L5) is the most susceptible to this condition, probably because it has to withstand to most weight and compression. The other lumbar and thoracic vertebrae may be at risk as well.
The site of hairline fracture is the bony ring on the back of the spinal column. While most spinal conditions that cause back pain are due to a degeneration to bones, discs, or joints due to the aging process, with Spondylosis young individuals are often affected.
Many of these young patient sustain these type of vertebral fractures due to sports and jobs that put a lot of weight or sudden pressures on their spines. Football and gymnastics are two of the usual suspects for the conditions of Spondylosis and Spondylolisthesis due to the pressures on the lumbar vertebrae especially as athletes explode powerfully out of bent positions. In football, a lineman stands with his feet apart, one hand on the ground, and bent over with his upper body about parallel to the ground. When the ball is hiked, the lineman must explode powerfully out of his crouched position, putting a lot of weight and pressure on his lowest lumbar vertebrae. When this happens, the thoracic or lumbar vertebrae are suddenly pulled towards one another. The pars interarticularis of the vertebrae are especially vulnerable when the spine is in an extended position, and a force suddenly pull the vertebral bones towards one another. Pars interarticularis (pars) is the part of the vertebra that is located between the superior articular process and inferior articular process of the facet joint.
Spondylolisthesis. Normally, the area of the pars is strong enough to take on high pressures, even in championship football games and gymnastics championships where athletes are pushing their bodies to the limit. However, either the young athletes are pushing their bodies past their limits, or they have a genetic predisposition towards injuries such as Spondylosis. When this happens, hairline cracks may develop. The crack may occur in childhood and fail to heal on its own. In most cases, mild spondylysis will exist with mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, and the cracks will remain present, without widening. In rare instances, however, the hairline crack will widen. When this happens the condition is called spondylolisthesis, which can cause moderate to severe back pain and/or dysfunction.
Read on to learn more about causes and treatments for Spondylolisthesis.