The Types of Back Injuries That Frequently Occur in Sports
About four out of every five Americans will experience and seek treatment for back pain at some point in their lives. That risk goes up, though, for those who lead an active lifestyle that involves regular participation in sports. Studies show that about one of every ten injuries suffered by professional athletes or weekend warriors involves some trauma to the lower back, or lumbar region, caused either by a single traumatic event or by repetitive stress or motion.
Though a significant percentage of sports-related back injuries are found in contact sports, active participants in virtually any sport are susceptible to pain or discomfortin muscles, nerves, discs, and other parts of the back. Among the most common conditions causing back pain for athletes are:
- Spondylolisthesis: Your vertebrae can move, particularly as a result of impact. When a displaced or slipped vertebra overlaps the vertebra immediately next to it, it can lead to significant discomfort.
- Spondylolysis: This involves a significant hyperextension of the lumbar spine and is more frequently found in sports like gymnastics, pole-vaulting, volleyball, and football.
- Musculoligamentous strain: An injury to the soft tissue that surrounds the spine, this is the most common type of sports-related back injury.
- Herniated Nucleus Pulposus: The discs in your back have a hard outer layer known as the nucleus pulposus. A hernia (essentially a tear) in this region causes the central core of the disc to bulge out and impinge on nearbynerves. If the herniated disc puts pressure on a spinal nerve, it can cause back pain.
As with any medical condition, whether injury or illness, the earlier you seek treatment, the more options you’ll probably have. Unfortunately, the common mindset among athletes is to play through the pain or wait until the pain is debilitating. A better approach is to seek immediate care if you are in significant discomfort or pain does not subside within a few hours.