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L5 vertebrae pars fracture

Started by Lauren on 05/01/2010 6:50pm

Hey everyone! I'm 14 years old and some how fracture my L5 vertebrae causing my disc to slip... we aren't sure how this happened but it's very stress full! I've played on a traveling basketball team for years and about a year and a half (more or less) ago my back started to hurt... the chiropractor kept saying, "It's just a strain..." they'd adjust me and then say it would get better. Well sure enough it got to a point were i couldn't even run. It's been a year since we've know what is wrong with my back and i stillllll suffer from it! I thought it was better, tried volleyball (after months of physical therapy) .. within 3 days i could hardly walk it hurt so bad... then i tried track... couldn't do it. Well it's been feeling better for the past couple months and the weather has been nice so i've ran a couple miles (past 3 days) and now every time i move it hurts:/

Well my mom has told me that they told her there is no surgery for my back and that it should heel.. but the doctor who told her that said that it should be healed after about 6 weaks? or maybe it was months... but it has been a year and a half of pain! Part of me thinks that my mom is just afraid and doesn't want me to have surgery on it since it's so close to my spine.. but in my opinion if there is a surgery so i can run without being in pain for a week after... im willing to try it!

Does anyone know any surgery for this condition?

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Lauren, I bet your mom is afraid because you are soo young and you haven't fully developed yet. You may have to wait on any kind of surgery that will last. I bet she's scared of what you are gonna have to do in the future....how many more surgeries, how much more pain, and she could be feeling a little helpless too! I know my husband feels helpless about my pain and discomfort because there is nothing he can do to make it better or go away. Sounds like you may need to rest your back by not playing sports or running for a while, who knows how long it will take to heal, but putting more stress on it is just prolonging the healing. I am soo sorry you feel pain inside and out, but honey, you need to heal up. After reading post after post of failed surgeries, it doesn't sound like you are gonna be able to get as physical as you'd like IF you did have surgery. Try other remedies first (steriodal injections..etc.), maybe for a couple of years, and who knows there could be a break-through technique for back patients. Look at all the clinical trials, I bet all of them require a certain age and it's for a good reason. I know you've probably heard all of this blah blah, but go and read about everyone's surgeries, not just the success stories, but all of them...
I'm almost 40 and have reservations about surgery even though there could be a perfect fix for me out there.... I don't want to make the mistake by agreeing to a surgery "guaranteed" to make things right and have the outcome being worse. Your mom is probably worried about you resenting her if things go wrong because she consented to your surgery. Ask, I bet she'd admit to it.
Take care and keep us posted please!

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Laren u are very young to be going thru what you are!! I understand what you are going thru however. I too was one of the 5-7% of ppl to be born with a predisposition to having a weakened spine at l5/s1. During the age of 5-13, ppl who have a predispostion and play sports like football etc or engage in gymnastics run the risk of developing pars defects causing pars fractures and as one grows older, leading to spondylolisthesis which is the slippage of the spine (vertabrae). What grade is yours? There are five grades. Do you have any neurological deficts in your legs? Any leg pain or weakness? Is your slippage considered "unstable"? If no to these then your fine with conservative methods to treat your condition. I agree with the above post...the sport your currently engaging in appears to be unhealthy for your back, making your condition symptommatic. Anyway, take care and keep close contact with your helth care provider and parents. I would hold off surgery until it became absolutely necessary. Take care:)

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I may too have been born with this crap, no body can figure out how or why I have these problems. I hate the questions...."How did this happen?", "When was the accident?" UH, the accident, hmm..when I was concieved....thanks (sarcastically) for telling me I was the accident.
One thing I can say Lauren...at least you are finding out about it at a young age and not in your 30's or 40's where the arthritis has already set in too much. I was into 1 meter spring board diving at your age and I was the one who would always land on my back trying to do a reverse layout. If I would have known back then about my fractures and all that crap, I may have taken it alot more easier on myself. I used to injure myself at work by lifting boxes that didn't weigh much and I kept doing it over and over just to get the job done....sure wish I would've known.

I do have a question though...do your ribs stick out alot? Mine have always stuck out a whole bunch, like I had a second set of boobs. We used to joke about it, but maybe mom and dad should have looked to see WHY they are sticking out soo much. I was active just like you, but I was in the water all summer long, so maybe I didn't notice the pain because of the low impact (except for the diving board) sport of swimming. Maybe swimming is the sport for you...If you just have to get out there and play...why not swimming?

Let us know please. We do care!

Wendi

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Lauren, I have posted on here recently also because of my daughter's pars fracture. She is also 14, and is also an athlete (mainly soccer). She did have surgery (pars repair) in Sept., when she was 13. We did quite a bit of research because, like your mom, I was worried about my daughter having back surgery! Some people we know have been told to wear a brace for 6 weeks, and they healed. For my daughter, the fracture on one side was newer but the other side was a very old fracture with no bone activity, so the doc did not believe it would heal with just rest. Our surgeon tells us he has a 91% success rate with pars repair surgeries. He said it usually takes at least a year to heal, but it also depends on the bone graft. For my daughter, the bone graft on one side healed in about 3 months, but the other side is taking longer. It has now been about 8 mos since the surgery. I know, it is very difficult to wait when you want to get back to your sports. And the feeling that others are "passing you up" is so frustrating. Recently we were told the slow side is starting to consolidate, but still has a long way to go. She has been sitting on the bench all year, but she is determined to play soccer again. I suggest you and your mom find a good spinal surgeon in your area and get the proper testing to see what's really going on, and look at your options. Good luck, and don't give up!

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Lauren, I have posted on here recently also because of my daughter's pars fracture. She is also 14, and is also an athlete (mainly soccer). She did have surgery (pars repair) in Sept., when she was 13. We did quite a bit of research because, like your mom, I was worried about my daughter having back surgery! Some people we know have been told to wear a brace for 6 weeks, and they healed. For my daughter, the fracture on one side was newer but the other side was a very old fracture with no bone activity, so the doc did not believe it would heal with just rest. Our surgeon tells us he has a 91% success rate with pars repair surgeries. He said it usually takes at least a year to heal, but it also depends on the bone graft. For my daughter, the bone graft on one side healed in about 3 months, but the other side is taking longer. It has now been about 8 mos since the surgery. I know, it is very difficult to wait when you want to get back to your sports. And the feeling that others are "passing you up" is so frustrating. Recently we were told the slow side is starting to consolidate, but still has a long way to go. She has been sitting on the bench all year, but she is determined to play soccer again. I suggest you and your mom find a good spinal surgeon in your area and get the proper testing to see what's really going on, and look at your options. Good luck, and don't give up!

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Dear Lauren,

My daughter has the same condition. In fact, when I read your post, I thought my daughter wrote it. She is 14, and a travel basketball player. She suffered her L5 pars fracture in a game about a year ago. We didn’t realize she had a fracture until she just couldn’t run anymore. Her doctor suggested she quit sports for three months to heal the fracture. She did, felt better and but began to suffer more pain conditioning for her middle school team. We were just lost, fearful of a re-fracture or worse, afraid to let her do anything.

She again quit sports for two more months, felt better (painless) and had a great travel season scoring 12 to 16 points a game. She worked herself into the best condition of her young life. Now as a freshman trying out for the high school varsity team, she relapsed in pain during extremely aggressive conditioning drills (weights, box jumps, tire lifting, etc.) and we have battled back again (her choice), trying to ready her for her high school season in November, only this time things are different now.

Our original doctor did not diagnose Spondylolissthesis, but was mainly concerned with not re-fracturing the vertebrae, recommending periods of no sports activity at all. We changed doctors, and the new doctor said the fracture was healed, but noticed a slight slip of the L5. It was the responses to your post and our new doctors advice that set us on a new path.

Our doctor said plainly she could play when she felt better and that pressure on a nerve to the leg was common, causing her pain. She rested three more weeks, started physical therapy with sports specialists and was told that her exercise regiment would have to change.

I am not a doctor, but it stood to reason that a slight slippage of the disk meant that her spine was not in good alignment, putting pressure on the nerve. We saw many recommendations for chiropractic therapy for the same condition and some that called for a computerized stretching or re-alinement of the spine. I bumped into a buddy of mine (in the medical profession) who also had back problems and he suggested trying inversion therapy. We asked a few medical professionals about inversion and they just looked at me funny. Her rehab therapist said it helped him and her coach said they gave it to him for a spinal condition in college.

We bit, bought a table and she has been using it 3 times a day (morning, after school, before bed) or (morning, before practice/game and after practice/game). Although the jury is still out for long term prognosis, the results have been dramatic. With a gradual incline program, 2-7 minutes. She was back on a court within 2 weeks, gradually starting to work her way back up to speed with no more stabbing pain. If inversion pulled the vertebrae off the nerve and rehydrated the disks, it was worth every penny. She loves it and its part of her daily program.

Now, as I am also a travel basketball coach, here is some advice and realities for you and your coaches:

If your coaches want you to play for them, then they are going to have to condition you differently. Twice my daughter was “conditioned” into the ground trying to make a team. Your parents are going to have to educate your coaches as to what you can and can not do. If the coaches show no understanding or feel you are not worth the special effort, then believe me you do not want to play for them.... period!

- There are just some exercises you are not going be able to do (sit ups, leg lifts, burpies, etc.)

- No weight lifting that involves vertical pressure on your spine (including over head medicine ball work).

- Layoff box jumps, this excessive pounding on the spine doesn’t help your progress.

- Take it easy on squats or any other exercise that involves excessive grinding on your lower spine. This will improve over time.

- Learn alternative exercises to every bad one I have mentioned. Your doctor or therapist can help with this.

- If you are like most serious basketball players, you play travel ball, rec ball, go to camps, take private lessons, run track, play pickup ball and work out at home, all at the same time. You must take time to rest to let your body put itself back together. As other players might be able to keep this pace, you can not. Overuse will cause you to relapse in pain, just as will doing the wrong exercise. Pace yourself no matter how bad you want to play. Feeding your body with rest will make you play better and give you more stamina.

- Take your time and gradually condition yourself back to speed. As long as your coaches see you working, trying to get better, they will give you more latitude. If they see you sitting, they will be afraid to put you in a game or even in practice. If your back hurts, ball handle, etc. Don’t just sit there in practice.

- As you rest (weeks, months) your muscles will begin to get sore trying to work back. You must try to tell the difference between routine muscle soreness and nerve pain.

- Things will get better over time. Know your pace and pain level and don’t be afraid to tell the coach you are starting to feel stabbing pain. To continue will set you back. Quit for the day and rest.

- You will need to build confidence in your back. At first you will be cautious, gingerly testing you back at every turn. This too gets better as you build confidence.

- Toughest of all...... work into your games slowly, starting with limited minutes, gradually adding minutes as your confidence and endurance build. You will need to help the coaches with this as communication is the key!

I hope this helps and as always, check with the doctor about inversion therapy and go slow, gradually inclining. A pull of 60% body weight will begin the process.

Remember, you are not alone. Your posting made my daughter feel better knowing she was not alone either.

Best of luck and keep us up on your progress!

Gordon

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Lauren, I hope you are doing well (and Gordon's daughter, too). I appreciate reading others' stories - like Gordon said, it also helps my daughter to know she is not alone. Sept 29 was one year from my daughter's surgery. She is doing very well. She's a freshman in high school, playing JV soccer. She has just been selected to start playing with the varsity team. Soccer can be quite physical, and she gets knocked down quite a bit. It has been so stressful for us, watching from the stands as she gets knocked down. But she gets back up and she has been fine. We still don't know if her bone graft is healed completely - she'll have another CT scan in January. But her doctor told us she seems to have enough stability that most likely another surgery will not be necessary, regardless of what we find out in Jan. about the bone graft. She is having no pain at all, and is on no restrictions. I just wanted to let you know, it has been a long year for her (and hard to not play sports for a year), but for her i think surgery was the right option.

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My son is 14 years old and has been a multi sport athlete for many years. During the Summer, he started football and basketball camp and experienced a lot of pain while running. After many visits hearing it was a "pulled muscle" he had an MRI and was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the L5. He has been wearing a brace and had 3 months of physical therapy. He was supposed to be "released" and return to baseball in less than 2 weeks. Now his pain has relapsed and the doctors don't want to do another MRI?!?!? They want to "give it more time." What is the protocol? My son has looked forward to high school sports, particularly baseball, his entire life and is so frustrated and defeated. I'm thankful to read he's not the only one out there going through this but am unsure of how to proceed....

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To Jenny,
So sorry to hear about your son. Re: how to proceed from here, I would get another opinion, and see if surgery could be the best option for your son. Our daughter was in so much pain, just sitting in a desk at school all day was difficult, so we decided to go ahead with the surgery. Of course, no one wants their child to go through back surgery. It was difficult, and it took a year for my daughter to heal. She also missed about a month of school during the year - 3 weeks after surgery and then about a week total after that, for doc appts (and there were a couple days she had painful back spasms and had to stay home). Fortunately, she was in 8th grade, not high school, so it was easier for her to make up the work, And of course, physical therapy, etc.. took a lot of time. I won't sugarcoat it - it was hard on the whole family. But, for athletes in high school, there is only a small window of time - especially if they want to play in college. For our daughter, it worked out well to do surgery, and now she is back and playing great! We thought it was best to fix the problem so she could get back to soccer, and her life! I think it would be frustrating to just keep waiting and waiting. I hope something can be done to give your son some relief and get him back to his sports.

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Gordon,

If anyone knows how to email "Gordon", I think he can really help me. I am a high school girls coach who has a young player who is very similar to Gordon's daughter. I would like to get in touch with him to get some info on workouts and sports specific stuff to help her play. My email is cknails@hotmail.com. Thank you

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