Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

General Spine News

Children Brace Themselves for Sports

School-aged athletes can develop low back pain (LBP). The most common cause of LBP in this age group is a condition called spondylolysis. This is a small fracture in the part of the vertebra (back bone) that forms the spinal canal.

It was once thought that spondylolysis was always a defect present at birth. Now, it's known that most of cases of spondylolysis are caused by repeated trauma. Sports like gymnastics, figure skating, and dance are the biggest problems. In these sports, the children are extending the spine over and over. In football, trauma from impact is a risk factor.

Doctors at Children's Hospital in Boston report success with a specific treatment for spondylolysis. They are using the modified Boston Overlap Brace combined with physical therapy. The brace is a hard plastic shell that wraps around the low back and waist and is secured with Velcro straps.

Children with mild to moderate symptoms are generally able to return to full sports activity after six weeks. Most children are very faithful about wearing the brace and following physical therapists' instructions. They want to return to sports as soon as possible. The brace is generally worn up to 23 hours a day for six months and then gradually weaned away.


Pierre A. d'Hemecourt, MD, et al. Spondylolysis: Returning the Athlete to Sports Participation With Brace Treatment. In Orthopedics. June 2002. Vol. 25. No. 6. Pp. 653-657.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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