Lower back pain is a common ailment seen in athletes, because the spine undergoes excessive stress, pressure and torsion during many athletic activities. Other factors such as trauma during sports and poor conditioning can lead to lumbar discomfort. As a leading center for spine surgery in Los Angeles, we wanted to explore some of these causes to help athletes better understand how to limit pain from sports.
Properly warming-up before strenuous activity is essential to protecting the lumbar spine. In addition, stretching, aerobic exercise, and weight training that targets the muscles around the spinal column, help to protect the lumbar region. The most common injury to the spine resulting from poor conditioning is muscle and ligament strain. This type of injury is diagnosed after more serious back injuries are ruled out.
High impact sports such as football and rugby are notorious for creating spinal fractures that result in lumbar pain. Spondylolysis, also referred to as the “Scottie dog fracture” is a commonly seen sports related injury that involves the joint where the two vertebrae meet. Incidences of lower back pain in athletes should be investigated to rule our spondylolysis.
Extreme bending that occurs in sports such as gymnastics and cheerleading can also result in spondylolysis. If untreated, the fracture may progress to spondylolisthesis, which is a condition where one vertebrae slips out of place over the vertebrae below it. In some situations, the fracture may result in the need for a fusion of the spine so that the problem does not worsen.
Sports that involve weight bearing and shock to the spine such as lifting, skiing and other impact activities can put enough pressure on the back to cause a herniated disc. The discs are the spongy cushions between the vertebrae that serve as shock absorbers for the spine. Undue pressure or torsion can cause the soft middles of the discs to bulge outside the line of the spine, and in some cases the membrane around the disc will rupture allowing the contents to spill out.
Most sports-related injuries and subsequent pain from play sports can be treated with bracing, pain or anti-inflammatory medication, or stretching, there will be some cases in which surgery is necessary to protect the back as well as mobility and overall health.
To see if you are a candidate for spine surgery or for more information about your conservative and surgical options for back pain, reach out to Dr. Bae in Los Angeles. Along with being a trusted surgeon and Medical Director of The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration, he has a team of highly regarded and board-certified surgeons and interventionalists who can help determine the root of your pain, and provide you with the best options for a positive outcome. Call (310) 828-7757 for more information or to schedule an in-person consultation.