Pars defect is a fracture within the bony bridge that joins the spinal column. This abnormal break of the pars interarticularis often produces pain that can develop on one or both sides of the lower back. Further, when pars defects of the lumbar spine do not heal, they can lead to other spine conditions such as spondylolisthesis.
Pars interarticularis–the segment that connects the facet joints in the back of the spine–is prone to stress fractures during childhood and adolescence while the tissue is still developing. Pars defects commonly cause lumbar pain among young athletes, as the disorder often stems from excessive and repetitive stress.
Causes of Pars Defect
The primary causes of pars defect include:
- Repetitive stress caused by certain activities such as gymnastics, diving, tennis, football, and other sports that involve hyperextension and twisting of the lower back.
- Age-related degenerative changes in the facet joints and spinal discs
- Genetic predisposition, as some people are born with a very thin pars interarticularis bone, making them more susceptible to injury
Symptoms of Pars Defect
A pars defect may be asymptomatic. Those who develop symptoms usually experience unilateral pain in the lower back that is more pronounced after exercise. Other signs may include stiffness in the lumbar area, hamstring tightness, and pain that radiates through the buttocks into the legs. In addition, some patients may have tingling in the legs, coordination issues, or minor difficulty walking.
How Is Pars Defect Treated?
If the defect is present without neurological compromise or spondylolisthesis, immobilization with braces can generally help expedite recovery. Dr. David Barnett may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, and X-ray-guided steroid injections. Pars defect treatment may involve spine surgery if nerve compression is severe and conservative management fails to resolve symptoms.
A stress fracture of the pars may be addressed with a direct repair of the bone break or a posterior lumbar spinal fusion. After surgery, patients will resume a course of physiotherapy designed to improve core muscle strength around the spine and pelvis.
Second Opinion On Pars Defect
Only a more severe pars interarticularis defect will require lower back surgery. Most cases will gradually heal with rest and targeted physiotherapy. Surgery is a major decision for anyone. Second opinions are essential to making informed decisions about one’s healthcare.
Patients uncertain about their condition or want a second opinion on the best pars interarticularis defect treatment are encouraged to make an appointment with Dr. David Barnett. He believes in exhausting conservative treatments first before suggesting surgical interventions such as lumbar arthrodesis.
Consult with Dr. David Barnett, Dallas Neurosurgeon & Spine Specialist
If you are experiencing symptoms of a pars defect or want a second opinion from a board-certified Dallas neurosurgeon, we invite you to contact Dr. David Barnett for an in-person consultation. Known for his compassionate patient care, Dr. Barnett will take the time to explain your best treatment options, with an emphasis on non-surgical solutions.
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From start to finish, Dr. Barnett and his staff were always informative and professional. Dr. Barnett performed my neck surgery and lower back surgery all during a pandemic and everything worked out perfect. Highly recommend Dr. Barnett. Top notch.
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