Up to 20 percent of all injuries that occur in sports involve the lower back or neck. Sports that involve repetitive impact commonly cause damage to the lower back, called the lumbar spine. Contact sports also place the neck, called the cervical spine, at risk of injury. The mid portion of the spine, called the thoracic spine, is less likely to be injured because it is relatively immobile due to the rib cage.
Simple To Serious
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Mechanical Low Back Pain
Mechanical low back pain accounts for 70-75 percent of all back problems and is usually the easiest to treat. It is the result of an injury to the surrounding muscles of the lower back and is normally due to poor conditioning and body mechanics, as well as inadequate warm-up. Most lower back pain can be treated with rest, over-the-counter medication and heating pads. Walking may be the best and most simple exercise for lower back injuries.
Facet Joint Syndrome
The vertebrae are connected by small joints called facet joints, which may become strained and/or inflamed when they undergo forces when the spine is excessively twisting or arching, especially during activities such as tennis, racquetball or golf.
Also called a “slipped disc,” a herniated disc is the most severe of low back disorders and occurs when the inner center of the disc pushes out, pressing on the nerves and causing pain in the back all the way down to the foot. Much more common is a small disc bulge which might be present for some time. Although pain can last a few weeks, the majority of disc-related problems may be resolved with physical therapy, decompression, and medication and very rarely require surgery.
While commonly occurring in people over 40 even without specific sports injuries, degenerated discs can be brought on more quickly by the wear and tear athletes put on their bodies. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine cushioning the vertebrae. As we age, the discs can degenerate – drying out, shrinking, and losing elasticity and flexibility. Sometimes, a part of the outer covering of the disc wears away or tears, allowing the parts of the disc to press on the spinal nerve roots. Symptoms may present as numbness, weakness, tingling, or shooting pain down the back of one leg. An active stretching regimen is the best way to prevent back pain and injury.
Neck pain refers to pain anywhere from the area at the base of the skull into the shoulders. The neck includes the bones and joints of the cervical spine, the discs that separate the cervical vertebrae and absorb shock as you move and the muscles and ligaments in the neck that hold the cervical spine together. Neck pain may be caused by an injury to one or more of these areas. Neck injuries are among the most dangerous and can occur due to sudden traumatic injury in sports like football, mountain climbing, skydiving, horseback riding, gymnastics, diving, rugby, judo or boxing.
Neck sprains and strains are common injuries resulting from sports. Fractures or dislocation of the spine are less common, but extremely dangerous and can lead to permanent paralysis. A common sports-related neck injury is a stinger or burner from stretched nerves in the neck, however, most neck injuries are caused by impact to the head or neck sustained during a fall or a blow.
Treatment for a neck problem or injury may include first aid measures, physical therapy, manipulative therapy (such as chiropractic or osteopathic), medicine, and in some cases surgery.
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