Low-Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound for Early-Stage Lumbar Spondylolysis in Young Athletes

Objective: To examine the effect of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) on early-stage spondylolysis in young athletes.

Design: Case–control study.

Setting: A single outpatient orthopedic and sports clinic.

Patients: A total of 82 young athletes (80 boys and 2 girls; mean age, 14.8 years; range, 10-18 years) with early-stage lumbar spondylolysis were enrolled in this study. All patients were examined by plain radiography and magnetic resonance imaging.

Interventions: Patients received either standard conservative treatment combined with LIPUS (n = 35) or without LIPUS (n = 47), according to the sequence of admission. The standard conservative treatment included thoracolumbosacral brace, sports modification, and therapeutic exercise.

Main Outcome Measures: The time required to return to previous sports activities was analyzed by using Kaplan–Meier methods with the log-rank test.

Results: The baseline parameters of both groups were not significantly different. The median time to return to previous sports activities was 61 days [95% confidence interval (CI): 58-69 days] in the group treated with LIPUS, which was significantly shorter than that of the group treated without LIPUS (167 days, 95% CI: 135-263 days; P < 0.01).

Conclusions: These results suggest that LIPUS combined with conservative treatment for early-stage lumbar spondylolysis in young athletes could be a useful therapy for quick return to playing sports.