Back injury isn’t something that most people think about as they prepare to play their favorite sport, or do a few outdoor projects around the house. It is perhaps this lack of awareness that is to blame for the high percentage of back injuries in young people and adults.
Getting Acquainted With Your Back
The best thing we may be able to do for ourselves is to get to know the back and all of its complexities. This major and important part of the body is comprised of numerous structures; including the small vertebrae, or bones, that are stacked one on top of another, and another, and so on. The bones of the spine are cushioned with discs, one between each bone. The flexibility of movement is supported by ligaments, which hold the spinal column in line.
What Sports Participants Need to Know
The most common injuries that occur during sporting practice and events are sprains and strains. A muscle strain or ligament sprain may occur due to poor body mechanics, to tight muscles (avoid this by stretching before play), overuse, over-extension, or a direct hit from another player.
The spinal injury may also include a stress fracture, called spondylolysis. This fracture often occurs in one of the five vertebrae in the low back, which too much stress or pressure is exerted on this segment of the spine.
If spondylolysis occurs, weakening of the spine may follow, leading to a problem with stability. The vertebra may shift out of place, impinging the nerves in the area.
What to Look For
Back pain is so easy to write off as a natural byproduct of living. The truth is, anything more than slight soreness as we engage in new activities could indicate a problem. Younger sports enthusiasts are less likely to say they feel an injury has occurred. It is important to look for signs such as chronic low back pain, or low back pain that worsens with movement, or that radiates in response to certain positions. Stiffness and numbness or tingling in the back or lower extremities also suggest that it’s time to call the doctor.
Often, sports-related injuries can heal without extensive care. This only happens, though, with adequate rest. Physical therapy may also aid in a faster recovery. Depending on the degree of weakness around a vertebra, a back brace may be prescribed. In extreme cases of spinal weakness, surgery is necessary.