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I had a spinal fusion performed in January of this year. Originally, I was only supposed to be fused at one level (L4/L5). When the surgeon got in there, he discovered something called a bilateral Pars defect. Essentially, the two bones that hold the vertebra up and back were broken. The vertebra had slipped forward, resulting in a condition called spondylolisthesis (try THAT one three times fast!!:p ). I had back pain for many years prior to having my surgery, and had many imaging tests done, but this defect never showed up on any of those. I am now fused from L4-S1, and am in the process of recovery. I'm considered young to have had this type of surgery (44), but I tried everything under the sun (creams, shots, facet injections, physical therapy, not to mention the laundry list of medications etc) to get relief, and it was the only option left.
I'm posting this here in the Parent's Corner because my surgeon informed me that this injury most likely happened when I was in my adolescence, and I was very involved in gymnastics at that time. When I researched the Pars defect, gymnastics was one of the sports mentioned that can lead to injuries of this nature. If your child is involved in sports that are considered high-impact, or where hyper-flexion posturing is common (such as gymnastics), and complains of sustained lower back pain, it might be worth asking your child's doctor about the Pars defect being a possibility. I'm not trying to instill fear, but rather encourage a proactive approach to this particular condition. From what I've read about it, catching it early enough increases the likelihood that conservative management will work!! Additionally, mentioning the Pars defect might prompt your child's physician to order imaging tests that more clearly define those areas of the spine.
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