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Laterality of Lumbar Spondylolysis in Adolescent Baseball Players

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Researchers from University of Tsukuba found that adolescent lumbar spondylolysis occurs more frequently on the side opposite to the pitching side in pitchers. However, no significant difference was found in the frequency of lumbar spondylolysis in fielders between their left and right sides.

Tsukuba, Japan—Lumbar spondylolysis is a fatigue fracture of the lumbar spine and one of the most common sports injuries that occur during adolescence. Prevention and early detection of lumbar spondylolysis are essential since these fractures cause chronic low back pain and require suspension of all sports activities during treatment. Lumbar spondylolysis more commonly occurs on only one side in sports such as baseball, in which the trunk twists to only one side. However, an association in the frequency of lumbar spondylolysis between the pitching side (right-handed or left-handed pitching) and nonpitching side or between the batting side (right-handed or left-handed batting) and nonbatting side in fielders remains unclear.

This study aimed to determine the site of lumbar spondylolysis between pitchers and fielders among adolescent baseball players. The results revealed that lumbar spondylolysis occurred more frequently on the nonpitching side in pitchers. In fielders, however, there was no significant difference in the frequency of lumbar spondylolysis between the batting and nonbatting sides. Twisting and turning of the trunk occurs simultaneously during pitching. The findings indicate that the lumbar pars interarticularis, where spondylolysis occurs, is repeatedly stressed on the nonpitching side more in pitchers than in fielders.

This research group has reported many findings on adolescent lumbar spondylolysis, including the accuracy of diagnostic imaging findings, the bone union rate of conservative treatment with a brace, characteristics of patients who failed after conservative treatment, and the development of new surgical methods and their results. The present study results were obtained from examination of adolescent baseball players. Dissemination of these results to players, instructors, parents, and others involved in adolescent sports may help prevent occurrences of lumbar spondylolysis.

Original Paper

Title of original paper:
Characteristics of Lumbar Spondylolysis in Adolescent Baseball Players: Relationship between the Laterality of Lumbar Spondylolysis and the Throwing or Batting Side
Asian Spine Journal


Associate Professor TATSUMURA Masaki
Institute of Medicine, University of Tsukuba / Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, Tsukuba University Hospital Mito Clinical Education and Training Center, Mito Kyodo General Hospital
Current position: Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Mito Kyodo General Hospital

TERUYA Shotaro
Doctoral Program in Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba

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