Can You Injure Your Lower Back Playing Basketball in Los Angeles, CA

Basketball can be an effective and fun way to get regular exercise, which is generally a good thing. At the same time, it’s also a sport that puts a lot of extra stress on certain parts of the spine because of the sudden movements and other motions associated with a typical game. If you regularly play basketball and experience lower back pain afterward, below you’ll find some of the possible reasons for your discomfort.

Back Strains/Sprains

Overstretching muscles or tendons (strain) while attempting a slam dunk or stretching or tearing a ligament (sprain) during a sudden jerk or jolt can result in lingering lower back pain. Symptoms associated with injuries of this nature can include pain from muscle spasms, discomfort aggravated by certain movements, and reduced range of motion. Fortunately, this type of lower back pain usually goes away with treatment that involves:

  • A brief period of rest or activity modification
  • Applying ice* to the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Compressing affected soft tissues in the lower back with a back wrap or brace

    *Avoid direct skin contact if you’re using an ice pack

Lumbar Spinal Disc Damage

The spongy spinal discs are designed to minimize friction and protect spinal bones. However, years of intense basketball games can cause discs in the lower back area to tear, bulge, herniate, or gradually wear (disc degeneration) over time. Depending on how the affected disc is damaged, you may experience occasional pain associated with movement, numbness related to nerve damage, or stiffness. Treatment options for disc-related problems include:

• Anti-inflammatory medicines
• Personalized physical therapy routines
• Epidural injections directly into the affected area
• Surgery that may include a microdiscectomy or disc removal and a fusion procedure if conservative treatments aren’t effective

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis

This is the official term for the slippage of one vertebra over an adjacent one. It can occur over time from excess wear related to playing basketball, or it may happen if your lower back sustains a hard blow or forceful impact during a particularly intense game. In addition to lower back pain, you may notice pain, general weakness, or muscle fatigue in your legs if this is why your lower back is hurting after basketball.

Treatment is similar to what’s mentioned above, except for the type of surgery that may be performed if conservative remedies aren’t effective. With a slipped vertebra, the common procedure is the removal of the back portion of one or more vertebrae (laminectomy) and fusion surgery to stabilize the spine.

Because of the movements required to play even a casual game of basketball, it’s not always possible to avoid lower back pain. Remember to briefly stretch before getting into a game, and get other forms of exercise that target your core spine-supporting muscle groups when you’re not on the court. Also, visit your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon if you have lower back pain that’s getting worse or not going away after a few weeks.

If you’ve injured your back playing sports or you have severe spine pain for any reason, see a spine specialist right away. From artificial disc replacement to XLIF surgery, Los Angeles patients have a variety of options for alleviating their pain. At The Spine Institute, we specialize in a wide array of cutting-edge techniques for back pain relief. If you’re looking for relief from spine pain, call 310-828-7757 and schedule an appointment.


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