A stress fracture in the spine, technically called spondylolysis, involves a hairline crack in the bone that protects the spinal cord. This most frequently occurs in the lower (lumbar) back due to excessive or repeated strain. It happens most often in children and teenagers who participate in sports in which the spine is repeatedly bent backward, according to Winchester Hospital Chiropractic Center. These sports include gymnastics, football and karate.
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Some people have no symptoms with a stress fracture. If pain occurs, it may come and go. The pain has an insidious onset, meaning it does not seem to be connected to any one incident.
Localised pain and stiffness is a common sign of a stress fracture in the spine. The pain may be dull or sharp. It typically worsens with activity, particularly when bending backward, and it disappears when the person rests.
Nerve compression pain can occur when the body attempts to heal the fracture. The primary symptom is sciatica, or pain that radiates down one or both legs. There also may be numbness, tingling or a "pins and needles" sensation. The affected leg may become weak as well.
Symptoms can worsen over time or if the fracture becomes larger. This pain is aggravated simply by standing, is not relieved by rest and may disturb sleep.
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