My 11-year old daughter was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis of the L5 vertebra. Will this heal if she stops gymnastics?

The answer to this question depends on several things. The first is the type of spondylolisthesis present. Spondylolisthesis means there is a gap between the main body of the L5 vertebra and the spinous process and facet joints.

There are four types of spondylolisthesis. Each type is different depending on the type
of defect present. Cause of defect is also important. Some types only require careful watching. There are often no symptoms and the child isn’t involved in any sports or activities that can make it worse.

Other types can be treated with activity restriction, physical therapy, and spinal bracing. Surgery may be needed when neurologic symptoms don’t go away with this type of conservative treatment. Surgery is also indicted when the spine is unstable.

Imaging studies such as X-rays, CT scans, SPECT, and MRIs may be needed to find out exactly where the damage is and how much damage is present. Once the extent of the defect is known, then treatment can be decided on.