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Stress fractures in one of the vertebrae of the lower back is a common cause of lower back pain for young athletes, this is technically named spondylolysis. The cause of the fracture is usually overuse, although some people may be genetically predisposed to suffering fractures of the vertebrae. Sports such as gymnastics, football and weight lifting put a high level of stress onto the spine and can eventually cause a fracture. This fracture may not cause any pain however if it does, it usually spreads across the lower back and can feel like a muscle strain.
Rest is essential to allow the bone to heal, whilst anti-inflammatory medication may help to reduce the back pain. Back braces are sometimes prescribed to protect and stabilise the spine. Physiotherapists will be able to offer advice on suitable activity and a timescale to return to full activity. If the condition is chronic and there is no relief from back pain then surgery can fuse the spine and prevent future fractures.