n Spine Athlete Injury - AOA Orthopedic Specialists

When participating in sports, injuries to the spine are more common than one may think. According to spine-health.com, up to 20% of sports injuries involve an injury to the lower back or neck. Of those injuries, the most common include:

  • Hyperflexion
    and hyperextension injuries
  • Muscle
  • Ligament

Hyperextension and Hyperflexion

Hyperextension is the over-arching or twisting of the back in a
backwards motion. On the other hand, hyperflexion occurs when the spine is
twisted forward too far. Hyperextension and hyperflexion of the back are a common
seen in athletes who participate in gymnastics, diving,
football, and volleyball. They are categorized by persistent lower back pain.
Initial treatment consists of rest, such as sitting out from sports and other
activities that may aggravate your back. Your doctor may also recommend
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as Advil. Ice can also be used
to relieve pain.

If hyperextension or hyperflexion of the back continues
even after rest, you could have a stress fracture in your vertebrae. This
condition is referred to as spondylolysis. In some incidences, the stress
fracture weakens one vertebra so much that it shifts. This is called
spondylolisthesis and is much less common.

If one of these two conditions have
manifested, and rest has failed to heal the injury, your doctor may assign you
to wear a back brace. This prevents hyperextension, allowing the bone to heal
back together. Your doctor could also send you to physical therapy 6-12 weeks
after your diagnosis, once your bones have had time to heal. Rehabilitation
exercises are focused on improving back flexibility and strength.

Athletes are allowed to return
to their sport within 3-6 months. Surgery is rarely necessary and only looked
into if the patient continues to have persistent pain after 6-12 months of

Muscle Strains and Ligament Sprains

Muscle strains and ligament sprains are the most common back
injuries found in young athletes. They can be caused by athletic overuse,
improper body mechanics and technique, lack of proper conditioning,
insufficient stretching, or trauma.

A back strain is categorized by injury to a muscle or a
tendon, while a back sprain is injury to the ligament. Strains and sprains are
both categorized by cramps and spasms, pain that increases when you move, or
decreased range of motion. For example, you may have difficulty walking or
bending forward.

Mild strains and sprains can be diagnosed after a
physical examination from your doctor. A doctor could diagnose you based off of
how the injury occurred, your symptoms, and your medical history. In the case
of a severe strain or sprain, an X-ray may have to be taken to rule out a more
serious injury.

Initial treatment includes a rest period where the athlete
sits out from sports participation. Ice and compression can also be used to
alleviate pain, along with pain medications like ibuprofen. In addition, other
measures to control pain and restore motion are commonly used. If the pain
persists after two weeks of treatment, your doctor may prescribe additional

If you’re an athlete experiencing any pain in your back,
Arlington Orthopedic Association can help. We have a team of board-certified
physicians who specialize in both sports medicine and the spine. Don’t allow yourself to sit on the
sidelines – contact
AOA today
to get you back in the game as quickly and safely as

Responsive Menu