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Spondylolisthesis, Pars Defect and sport

QFFlyer744QQFFlyer744 Posts: 1
edited 08/30/2015 - 9:08 PM in Lower Back Pain

I'm a 16 year old male and I am a competitive swimmer, competing at a national level (in Australia), training 9 times a week in the pool along with 2 gym sessions. Just before Christmas of 2012 I was told I had Spondylolisthesis of the L4/5. At the time I was experiencing pain but I was virtually unaffected by it with my swimming and normal life. I was given exercises to do to strengthen my core, glutes and upper body, the pain eventually went away after 2/3 months and we moved on.

6 months later, the pain came back and worse. It was then I decided to seek specialist assistance and I was sent off for an MRI and that was when the Pars Defect in the L5 was discovered. Not only that, I was also told I had three compressed disks, two of them bulging. It was from this point that I began to pull back session time in the water to 1 hour sessions from 2 hours.

After approximately 3 months of seeing the specialist and physio, the pain was only getting worse. At the time, I had a small limp, struggled to sit down and struggled with the basics of life. It was at this point where it was recommended I get Cortisone injections into the Pars defects. I proceeded with that option knowing full well that there was no certainty of it working. This is all happening in November of 2013.

I had positive results from the Injections however it only had an effect for 2 weeks (if that) and I was back to square one.

In August of last year, the option of getting Fusion Surgery was presented to me and highly recommended (apologies if that is incorrect terminology) however I wasn't allowed to because my parents and swimming coach wouldn't allow me and this led to a falling out with the specialist.

Now the present. I have not had a pain free day for over 2 years and I am at the stage where is has got to me mentally (affecting school grades, social life etc). It has been suggested to me by a new specialist that I see a psychologist as he believes that depression could be playing a big part in me not recovering. So that leads me to my first question; what are your thoughts on that?

I want to talk about the last two months (July and August of 2015). At this point in time, I am still swimming however my hours and sessions have become very limited. Aside that, my back has gone down hill significantly. I can't sit in class, I have a very noticeable limp that is only frowned upon by my parents (who whilst pay the medical bills, haven't been all that mentally and openly supportive of my situation), I struggle to bend down and I need something/someone to help me stand up just to name a few things that I struggle with. Some symptoms have stayed the same, some are new and some of the existing have developed over time. The main symptoms that I am concerned about are as follows:
- Loosing control of my legs as they just start to shake without warning
- A crippling like pain right on the affected part of my spine that does not go away
- Slightly relieved when lying down but I obviously can't live a horizontal life...
- Pins and needles in my back and legs
This leads me to my second and ultimate question. Where should I go to from here? It has been effectively a 3 year journey with more than 2 of those in constant pain without a days brake and most of all, with no progression.

Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all :)


Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.

Liz -Spine-health Moderator


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 08/30/2015 - 9:07 PM
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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