Playing sports without a spine would be quite a challenge, so it’s of the utmost importance to keep it healthy when participating in athletic activities! While spine injuries are common among athletes of all age groups, stress fracture of the spine is one of the most common ones among high school athletes.
Stress fracture of the spine results in overextending the spine. The athlete can suffer from a stress fracture on one or both of the bones that comprise the spine, or vertebra. This often involves a scenario in which the vertebra has slipped out of its normal position. Symptoms of this condition include spasms that occur in the hamstring muscles, and the incapacity to bend forward.
Experts have discovered that sports-related injuries have a greater impact on teens’ backs, than they previously believed. In fact, they’ve discovered that roughly half of 20-year-olds have experienced lower back pain at least once during their lives!
There are two main types of stress fractures in the spine. One is spondylolysis, which is a stress fracture in one of the bones in the spine. The other main type of stress fracture in the spine is spondylolisthesis, which occurs when a bone becomes so weak that it begins to shift out of position.
Teen athletes that are most susceptible to stress fractures of the spine are those whose sports require extreme flexibility and heavy pressure or weight on the back. That includes sports such as football, weightlifting, and gymnastics.
While the types of treatments used for stress fractures of the spine vary from one physician to another, the objective is always to prevent the injury from worsening. One common treatment is a brace, which will prevent the teen athlete from bending his or her back. The duration that the brace stays on the patient varies, though it’s common for an athlete to wear it for three or four months! Physical therapy often happens concurrently with the use of the brace, or following it.
If the initial treatments are unsuccessful, then the next option is surgery. The good news is that it’s typically unnecessary. The process involves the surgeon removing the section of the vertebrae that’s contacting one or more nerves. Another option is to combine multiple vertebrae.
Treating a stress fracture of the spine means that the teen athlete will have to take a time out from the sport that he or she plays. While this can definitely be a frustrating time, it’s necessary in order for the spine to begin healing.
There are several ways to prevent stress fractures of the spine from occurring. It’s crucial that teen athletes do stretching and warm-ups before practice or competitions. They should also wear protective equipment to provide their back with a sufficient amount of support. And it’s also of the utmost importance for teen athletes to use the proper techniques when practicing their sport, or participating in a game or match. While taking these steps won’t guarantee that the athlete won’t suffer back injuries, it will significantly reduce the likelihood that they will occur.