Lower back pain can sideline any athlete–professional or amateur. To keep you in the game, you must treat acute and chronic injuries and learn ways to recover well and prevent future problems. In this blog, we will look at the causes of lower back pain and ways to get your back strong and active once again.
Common Reasons For Lower Back Pain In Athletes
Lower back pain in athletes typically results from acute or chronic injury. Perhaps a basketball player collides with an opponent, causing a fracture of a lumbar vertebra. Or, a volleyball player or runner develops soreness and pain because of the pounding his feet take from jumping and continually striking the feet on hard pavement. It’s very common for the shocks endured by the feet to travel upwards to the knees, hips, and even the lower back.
Athletes often develop lower back pain from fractures, muscular strain, repetitive motions, and impact. Also, athletes experience physical stresses, which can overstretch muscles and herniate discs that cushion the small vertebral bones making up the spinal column. Orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors call these painful injuries discogenic because the resulting pain comes from disruption of the soft, jelly-like discs.
Finally, lower back pain can develop in active people of all ages due to:
- Insufficient warm-ups before and cooling downs after games, runs, or workouts
- Lack of regular stretching and strengthening routines
- Neglecting back and core muscle strengthening exercises
- Weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area
- Poor posture–both static (while sitting or standing in one position) and dynamic (while ambulating)
- Training with improper techniques and skills appropriate for the particular athletic activity
How to Treat Lower Back Pain
The first step in treating lower back pain is recognition of how serious the underlying cause may be. For instance, if you have lower back pain accompanied by fever, fatigue, incontinence, and sudden weight loss, you should see an orthopedic specialist right away.
For acute injuries to the back, such as muscular strains, apply the tried and true method of RICE, which consists of:
- Rest (limit activity–particularly with contact sports–but not extended bed rest)
- Ice application
- Compression (bracing with a lumbar support to relieve pain)
- Elevation of limbs that may be affected along with a back injury
Depending on the results of your diagnostic imaging, the orthopedic specialist may advise:
Over the counter pain medications, such as NSAIDS
- Muscle relaxants
- Injection therapy, such as epidural steroid injections
- Physical therapy, including targeted exercises, massage therapy, acupuncture, and traction, as appropriate
Recovering From and Preventing Lower Back Pain
Helping athletes and physically active people recover and prevent lower back pain can be challenging. Much of the treatment strategy depends on the seriousness of the diagnosis. Sports medicine doctors and physical therapists concentrate on sport-specific motions, making sure patients perform them correctly. The focus is reduction of stress on the structures of the lower back – muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, nerves, and discs. Another focus of recovery and prevention of future back injuries is strengthening abdominal muscles.
Low Back Pain Treatment in O’Fallon, MO
At Advanced Bone & Joint in St. Charles County, MO, our team of board-certified orthopedic specialists offers the finest spinal care for athletes and people who want to enjoy an active lifestyle. To learn more about how we can help you feel and function at your very best, or if you have unresolved back pain, call us for a consultation: (636) 229-4222.
We have three clinics, along with an urgent care and onsite imaging services. We are located in O’Fallon, St. Peters, and Wentzville, MO. You can also schedule your visit through our website.