Back Pain from Sports Injuries

Your favorite sport could potentially lead to back pain from an accident or overuse. Many sports injuries relate to the neck or back, but the exact type of injury sustained will depend on the type of sport and the stress it puts on the back and spine.

Some athletes attempt to keep playing through the pain – until they cannot do it anymore. That is a mistake that can result in long-term consequences, even the end of playing sports. For best results when a sporting activity leads to back pain, you should contact a Tampa Bay spine surgeon specializing in sports-related back injuries as soon as possible.

Common Sports-related Back Injuries

The highest rate of back pain occurs as a result of participating in the following sports:

  • Gymnastics
  • Diving
  • Weightlifting
  • Golf
  • Football
  • Rowing

While spinal fractures occur in sports, the majority of sports-related back pain results from soft-tissue injuries, such as strained muscles, sprained ligaments and contusions. Sports in which soft-tissue injuries are especially common include:

  • Baseball
  • Boxing
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Running
  • Soccer
  • Wrestling

Soft-tissue injuries involve not only pain, but swelling and inflammation. In cases where ligaments are torn, surgical repair is necessary.

Lower back – or lumbar – injuries are a common source of back pain, often caused by impact or from constant repetition. Spondylolysis results from a stress fracture in the lower lumbar region, with chronic lower back pain as the primary symptom.

The condition is also caused by a genetic defect and may affect young athletes. Activities involving hyperextension of the lumbar area may trigger spondylolysis, including:

  • Figure skating
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Pole vaulting
  • Weightlifting

If the fracture causes the affected vertebrae to shift out of place, the condition becomes known as spondylolisthesis. Surgery is often needed to correct spondylolisthesis.

Upper back injuries are less common, and occur most often from sporting activities requiring torso rotation. These include:

  • Golf
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Weight training

Back pain from sports-related injuries often responds to rest, icing or heat, and anti-inflammatories. If conservative treatment does not work, a back brace may allow injuries to heal by limiting movement. Laser therapy is also beneficial.

How a Spine Surgeon Can Help

A Tampa Bay spine surgeon is familiar with back pain from sports injuries. Each patient is thoroughly evaluated and undergoes diagnostic imaging to get to the root of the injury. For example, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can detect any tears in soft tissue. Once a diagnosis is made, they can review appropriate treatment options.

In addition to treatment, they will recommend exercises to get their patient back in shape and lessen the chances of another such injury. For athletes, continuing aerobic conditioning is necessary, and surgeons will custom tailor an exercise program for that purpose. Patients receive instruction on ways to keep the back safe while playing their particular sport.

If you experience back pain from a sports injury, contact an experienced Tampa Bay spine surgeon for an examination and treatment options.