Sports Spondylolysis Clinic: Helping you get back in the game

If you've been diagnosed with athletic spondylolysis, our sports rehabilitation experts at UW Health Sports Spondylolysis Clinic locations in Madison and Verona, Wis., will help you build strength and flexibility so you can safely return to training and competition.


What is athletic spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis is a stress fracture of the lumbar spine. It occurs in six to 10 percent of the general population and has been found to be as high as 35 to 60 percent of the athletic population.

It is especially common in young athletes under the age of 16 who participate in sports that involve twisting or backward-bending motions of the spine. This injury also runs in families and is more common in some populations, suggesting that there might be a hereditary component.


A thorough evaluation and treatment plan

You will be seen by a physical therapist specializing in the treatment of athletic spondylolysis and undergo a thorough musculoskeletal evaluation to address injury and performance issues. During the initial evaluation, patients receive:

  • History, including review of sports, training, and growth

  • Orthopedic examination (i.e., flexibility, strength, balance, skeletal alignment, muscle performance)

  • Treatment plan development

All tests and findings will be reviewed with you immediately following the examination.

A treatment program will be implemented within our rehabilitation guidelines (pdf). Your treatment program could consist of therapeutic exercises, manual interventions and guidelines for a progressive return to your sport or training. Modification to your training/lifting form also might be recommended to expedite healing or prevent recurrence.

Injury-related evaluations and services are billed to your insurance company. Please contact your insurance company to verify your coverage.

Return to sport

A variety of tests will be done to determine when you are ready to return to your sport. These tests involve various strength tests, flexibility tests, force plate jumping and running tests and trunk endurance tests. The tests used will depend on the sport to which you are returning.

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