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

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Abstract

Objective:

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

Design:

Retrospective case series.

Setting:

Hospital-based sports medicine clinic.

Patients:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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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