Pars Defect

Pars Defect

Pars Defect

A pars defect is a break in bones of the spine (vertebrae). Pars defects can occur as a result of trauma or can be a congenital defect in 5% of the population. In traumatic causes one part of the spine acts like an ax and can cause a break in another part of the spine adjacent to it.

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What are the causes?

  • Weightlifting
  • Gymnastics
  • Football (linemen in particular)
  • Motor vehicle accidents

In severe cases, this fracture can allow the spine to move abnormally, resulting in a slipped vertebrae called a spondylolisthesis. This can cause arthritis of the spine or can cause compromise of the spinal cord and nerves, requiring surgery.

This is a crack that forms in a narrow bridge of bone at the back of a vertebra. A vertebra is one of the bones that forms your spine. Often, this injury happens in the lumbar spine. It can happen to people of all ages. But we most often see it in children and teens. That's because their bones are still growing.

This condition occurs when a lumbar vertebra slips out of place. It slides forward, distorting the shape of your spine. This may compress the nerves in the spinal canal. The nerves that exit the foramen (open spaces on the sides of your vertebrae) may also be compressed. These compressed nerves can cause pain and other problems.


Acute or chronic low back pain and stiffness are common symptoms of spondylolysis. Symptoms worsen with activity and improve with rest. Extension of the low back and twisting typically worsen symptoms.


The Compass Pain and Spine can diagnose a pars defect during a comprehensive history, physical examination, and imaging such as Xray, CT scan or MRI.


Rest, non-inflammatory medication, bracing, and physical therapy often are prescribed. If there is instability or significant abnormal movement of the spine (spondylolisthesis), surgery may be indicated.