Spondylolysis mostly manifests in the lumbar spine as a fracture in the bony ring on the back of the vertebrae. It is usually caused as a result of a violent traumatic incident or excessive, repeated strain on the low back. The area affected is called the pars interarticularis, so doctors sometimes refer to this condition as a pars defect. Workers who repeatedly bend backwards, can get it, as well as a worker who falls onto his or her back, or suffers a heavy blow. Many individuals with spondylolysis will develop spondylolisthesis, which is the forward displacement of a vertebral bone over the vertebrae beneath it.

As noted above, the vast majority of injured workers do not need surgery for spondylolysis. Rest, restricted activities, physical therapy all help injured workers get back to work. There are cases in which workers with spondylolysis do require surgical intervention. When symptoms are not relieved with nonsurgical treatments, however, patients may require surgery. The main types of surgery for spondylolysis include laminectomy and posterior lumbar fusion.


Nerve compression can cause considerable pain and symptoms. If too much cartilage builds up where the fractured bones are trying to heal, the nerve that passes near the injured bone may get squeezed, as described earlier. To fix this, a section of the bony ring is removed to take pressure off the nerve. The procedure to remove the lamina from the bony ring and release pressure on the nerve is called laminectomy.

Posterior Lumbar Fusion

A spinal fusion may be required after a surgeon performs a laminectomy procedure. Fusion is recommended when a spinal segment (a set of vertebrae) has become too loose or unstable.

A spinal fusion allows two or more bones to grow together, or fuse, into one solid bone. This keeps the bones and joints from moving. In this procedure, the surgeon lays small grafts of bone over the problem area on the back of the spine. Some surgeons also apply metal plates and screws to prevent the two vertebrae from moving. However, some surgeons prefer not using instrumentation, especially with younger patients as fusion occurs when the procedure is done without plates and screws.

McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents injured workers with work-related or job duties caused spondylolysis. Yes, there are congenital and other factors, but we take the worker as we find him or her, and if the job contributes to the disability caused by spondylolysis, then its work-related in our book and we will fight to prove the case. Workers compensation benefits for disability and lost time are available without surgery depending on the doctor’s opinion on causation and any permanent work restrictions.