Last Updated: 2/9/2023

Spondylolysis is a defect of the pars interarticularis (such as a fracture) and may lead to slippage of a vertebra in the spine (called spondylolisthesis). It is a common cause of low back pain.

This condition may develop because of a number of reasons, from genetics to sudden trauma, and may be a result of repetitive motions or regular stress on the spine. If the injury is work-related, an Iowa work comp lawyer can help file a claim for workers' comp benefits.

Facts to Know About Spondylolysis

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis can occur at any age and, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, affects about four to six percent of the U.S. population. Spondylolisthesis occurs when a lumbar vertebra, typically the fifth (L5), slips forward and becomes situated out of place. When this occurs, it can potentially place pressure on the spinal cord, which can cause low back pain.

There are two forms of spondylolisthesis:

  • Degenerative Spondylolisthesis - Caused by general wear and tear with age, this occurs when the intervertebral discs weaken and are unable to properly keep the vertebra in place, allowing slippage to occur.
  • Spondylolytic Spondylolisthesis - Caused by a pars fracture, a fracture of the pars interarticularis, which allows the vertebra to slip out of place.

Degenerative spondylolisthesis may develop over time because of general use and exertion of the lower back and spine. Spondylolytic spondylolisthesis can occur because of repetitive motions or stress or sudden trauma causing the vertebra to fracture. When either injury is related to one's employment in Iowa, a work comp lawyer in can review eligibility for a workers' comp claim.

Spondylolysis Caused By Work-Related Activity or Accidents

Any job that puts regular stress on the lower back may create a risk for spondylolysis:

  • construction workers;
  • gardeners;
  • roofers; and
  • painters.

Workers who routinely lift heavy objects or bend and stretch their lower back should take notice when chronic low back pain persists.

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis does not always present clear symptoms, but some of the signs to watch for include:

  • chronic pain and soreness of the middle lower back (lumbar region);
  • pain that worsens when bending backwards;
  • weakness or pain in the legs;
  • slowed reflexes; and
  • tingling sensations in the middle lower back.

Seeking Help for a Work-Related Case of Spondylolysis

Workers who experience low back pain or any of these symptoms should bring them to the attention of their family doctor. A doctor may suggest the patient undergo an X-ray of the lower back to see the position of the vertebra and a CT or MRI scan to see if a slipped vertebra is pressing on the nerves or spinal cord.

Treatment for spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis will be determined by the severity of the injury and whether or not the nerves or spinal cord are affected. Non-surgical treatment may be attempted by taking a break from the physical work that caused the condition and allowing the back to rest. Anti-inflammatory medications may be given and back braces may help reduce the pain.

Physical therapy may also be recommended with a gradual return to normal work activity. If the back pain persists or worsens or the vertebra does not begin to return to normal position, surgery may be required.

Treating spondylolysis can be costly, especially if it requires taking time off work to rest, or if ongoing physical therapy is needed. Those who suffered a back injury while on the job – spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis – may be eligible for a workers' compensation case, with which an Iowa work comp lawyer can help.

Learn About Your Rights from an Iowa Work Comp Lawyer

Walker, Billingsley and Bair is dedicated to leveling the playing field between injured Iowans and insurance companies. For legal assistance, call (888) 435-9886 or fill out our online contact form to set up a consultation with an Iowa work comp lawyer. You will go over your low back pain and spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis and discuss eligibility for compensation through workers' comp.

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.