Lower back pain is the third most common sports injury sustained by young athletes under the age of 18, according to new findings from Loyola University Medical Center. Not only can these injuries bench athletes for weeks, they put them at risk of future back problems if the issue is not addressed in completion.
The Study and Its Findings
The Loyola University study was presented by sports physician Neeru Jayanthi, MD, at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando. Dr. Jayanthi and colleagues studied 1,200 young athletes who sustained 843 injuries.
Fifteen percent of those injuries were lower back injuries. The other two most common sports injuries were ankle (16%) and knee injuries (31.1%). Concussions and headaches were also common (13.4%) as well as shoulder (10.7%), and hip injuries (6.4%).
Most of those back injuries (61%) were considered less serious such as sprain/strains to the lumbar facet and sacroiliac joints. However 39% were considered serious fractures or complications of stress fractures. Dr. Jayanthi touched on common risk factors for lower back injuries in young athletes including:
- Poor core stability
- Over training one muscle group
- Intense training schedule (less than 12.7 hours a week)
- Limited training to one sport starting from a young age
Dr. Jayanthi recommended several preventive strategies including:
- Resting for at least one day if an athlete is experiencing pain in a high-risk area like the back, shoulder, knee, or elbow.
- If symptoms linger for more than one week, seek evaluation from a physician.
- In younger children who are still developing physically, do not spend more hours per week than your age playing a sport.
- Avoid specialization in any sport before late adolescence.
- Take a break from competitive sports for at least 1-3 months out of the year.
- Take a rest day from sports training at least one day per week.
- For racket sports, athletes should have their form and stroke evaluated to minimize any back extension one time per season.
The Bottom Line
Many chiropractors are trained in sports medicine and can assist your child in diagnosing, treating, and preventing back injuries. In fact recent research suggests that chiropractic is the best conservative treatment for back pain in athletes. Chiropractic can also assist in the treatment of other common sports injuries like tennis elbow, hip pointers, neck pain, tendonitis, knee pain, etc.
If your child is experiencing lower back pain due to a sports injury and are interested in learning more about our free chiropractic consultation, click book online now in the upper right hand corner.
Has your child tried any of the above preventive strategies with success? If injury occurred, what sport was being played at the time? Tell us in the comments below?