Spondylolysis happens when a crack forms in the bony ring on the back of the spinal column. Workers with spondylolysis may feel pain and stiffness in the center of the low back. Bending fully backward increases pain. Symptoms typically get worse with activity and go away with rest. Doctors refer to this type of back pain as mechanical pain because it most likely comes from excess movement between the vertebrae. Workers may eventually experience pain that radiates down one or both legs. This pain may come from pressure and irritation on the nerves that exit the spinal canal near the fracture. When nerve pressure in the low back causes leg pain, doctors refer it as neurogenic pain.
Spondylolysis is thought to be caused by repeated strains that damage the lower spine over time. The repeated strains can eventually lead to an overuse injury in the pars interarticularis. The most common location for this to occur is in the lowest vertebra of the spine, which doctors call L5. This vertebra connects the spine to the pelvis. However, a problem with the pars can occur in any lumbar vertebra. It rarely happens in more than one vertebra at a time.
The vertebra initially responds to the abnormal strain by adding new bone cells around the injured area. But if the injuries happen faster than the body can keep up with needed repairs, a crack may form in the weakened bone. This is called a stress fracture. This type of fracture occurs in the pars, the area of bony ring between the pedicle and lamina.
The crack may affect only one side of the bony ring. However, it is equally common for the defect to occur on both sides. When this happens, the vertebra is no longer held firmly in place by the facet joints on the back of the ring. As a result, the vertebra is free to slip forward over the one below. This slippage, which is closely related to spondylolysis, is called spondylolisthesis.
Spondylolysis can occur in workers who regularly do physical job duties that include back bending as part of their job. Construction workers, laborers, sheet rockers, iron workers and other tradesmen are affected. Symptoms sometimes appear when a worker ramps up his or her hours or is forced to use poor equipment or the job is undermanned.
[nap_names id=”FIRM-NAME-1″] in Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents low back workers compensation claims involving spondylolysis for medical bills and treatment, temporary and permanent disability benefits, loss of earning capacity benefits and permanent total disability benefits. While spondylolysis can have a genetic etiology as well, the question is whether the job duties contributed to the condition to where it becomes disabling.