Athletes involved in sports, especially contact sports, are likely to experience an injury at some point in their athletic career. Even when they take precautions and wear protective gear, injuries can still occur. It’s particularly important to take a spine injury seriously because these injuries can have long-lasting, damaging effects.
Up to 20 percent of sports injuries involve the lower back or neck. Learn about the most common sports and spine injuries that are suffered most frequently by athletes.
Acute injuries occur as a result of an isolated traumatic event, such as blunt force from a collision with a person or the ground. Common acute injuries include a sprained ankle, fractured wrist, or pulled muscle and typically occur during exercise, sports, or other activities that involve physical contact. This injury is often mild and can be treated with physical therapy, home exercises, bracing, or medications.
It’s common for the neck to be injured in contact sports like football because the neck has a wide range of motion, and is less protected than the rest of the spine, which makes it more vulnerable to injury. The most common neck injuries involve the muscles, ligaments, discs and joints in the neck.
Neck injuries are painful and can restrict motion. In some cases, they can also cause pain in the shoulders and down the arms.
Chronic Overuse Injuries
Chronic overuse injuries are very common in athletes such as baseball or softball pitchers, volleyball players, and tennis players. These injuries are caused by months or years of performing the same repetitive motion with the same body part, such as serving a volleyball or pitching a baseball. Chronic overuse injuries include rotator cuff tendinitis and tennis and golfer’s elbow.
After a chronic overuse injury, a physician will diagnose the problem and may prescribe a period of rest, modified activity, a physical therapy routine, medication and sometimes recommend an injection. While recovery time may be longer than an athlete would like, proper treatment and rehabilitation are necessary to prevent the pain from coming back.
Lower Back Injuries
The lower back is very susceptible to injuries and is often strained during sports and other physical activities. Running, twisting, and weightlifting are notorious activities that cause stress to the lower back and result in injuries. Most lower back injuriesinvolve the muscles, ligaments, discs and joints in the back.
If you’ve experienced a painful sports- or spine-related injury and you’re suffering from pain, make sure you see an orthopaedic physician to be evaluated. Whether your injury is mild or severe, it’s best to get a precise diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Fortunately, these common sports and spine injuries can usually be treated using methods that don’t involve surgery.
For more information about sports- and spine-related injuries, including treatment options and finding the right physician for you, download our e-book, Understanding Your Options: The Non-Operative Guide for Sports and Spine Injuries. This educational guide will explain all you need to know about these painful injuries.