Young athletes may be prone to lower back injuries

November 19, 2013


Young athletes may be prone to lower back injuries

Back injuries can originate due to a number of different circumstances, including stress, work, poor posture, arthritis, obesity and illness, but athletics are a particularly common source of them. According to Spine Health, they account for approximately 20 percent of all injuries sustained in an athletic context. The nature of sports dictates that the neck, upper and lower back are all susceptible due to the stresses involved, with the upper back bearing the least risk and the neck and lower back being the most likely to receive injuries.

A recent study confirmed that in the case of young athletes - those in high, middle and elementary schools under the age of 18 - lower back injuries are among those most frequently seen. Players and their coaches or trainers would be wise to review this study and similar data, and to subsequently make the lower back a priority in their athletic injury prevention best practices. 

Lower back is third most common
Led by sports medicine expert Neeru Jayanthi, researchers at Loyola University looked at data from 1,200 athletes within the aforementioned age group, all of whom had suffered a total of 843 injuries. While knee and ACL injuries were found to be most common - constituting 31.1 percent of the total - and ankle injuries accounted for 16 percent, the lower back came in third at 15.1 percent. 

Presenting the results of the research at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., Jayanthi emphasized the gravity of these injuries and the need for immediate attention.

"If a young athlete has lower back pain for two weeks or longer, it is imperative that the athlete be evaluated by a sports medicine physician," Jayanthi explained. "If a serious injury such as a stress fracture is not properly treated and does not heal properly, the athlete could be at risk for long-term back problems."

While 61 percent of the injuries noted in the study affected the lumbar facet and sacroiliac, and as such were not considered to be incredibly serious, the remaining 39 percent were grave, including stress fractures and related complications. The study also noted that athletes who received these injuries typically spent more time on the field than other players. This would make them prone to overuse injuries in a general sense, one of the primary hazards of student athletes.

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