Prevalence of Spondylolysis in Symptomatic Adolescent Athletes: An Assessment of Sport Risk in Nonelite Athletes

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To assess the risk of spondylolysis by sport in nonelite adolescent athletes with low back pain (LBP).


Retrospective case series.


Hospital-based sports medicine clinic.


The medical charts of 1025 adolescent athletes with LBP (age 15 ± 1.8 years) were examined; 308 (30%) were diagnosed with a spondylolysis.

Assessment of Risk:

Risk of spondylolysis was assessed in 11 sports for males and 14 sports for females.

Main Outcome Measure:

Relative risk of diagnosis of spondylolysis injury.


The risk of spondylolysis differed by sex with baseball (54%), soccer (48%), and hockey (44%) having the highest prevalence in males and gymnastics (34%), marching band (31%), and softball (30%) for female athletes. Baseball was the only sport to demonstrate a significant increased risk of spondylolysis.


The sports with the greatest risk of spondylolysis in adolescent athletes in this study were not consistent with published literature. Clinicians should be cautious generalizing high-risk sports to their practice, as geographic region and level of the athlete may significantly influence the incidence of spondylolysis in the population they are treating.

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