1516.jpegAbout 75-85% of Americans experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Athletes, due to their physical activity, are particularly susceptible to lumbar (lower) spine injuries. Whether it’s skiing, basketball, football, or other sports, the spine undergoes significant stress, twisting, and impact. Even the fittest athletes can suffer from back injuries.

As the leading pain management physicians in the greater Atlanta area,The Physicians Spine & Rehabilitation Specialists understand the unique challenges that athletes face when dealing with lower back pain. Whether you're a professional athlete or an active individual,  our experts can help you beat lower back pain and return to your passions. Book an appointment now for a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

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If you're an athlete with lower back pain,  knowing the causes can help you prevent future injuries and promote a healthier spine. Here are six common causes of lower back pain in athletes and how our team at The Physicians Spine & Rehabilitation Specialists can help you overcome them.

1. Muscle Strains

Muscle strains are the most common cause of lower back pain in athletes. These types of injuries occur when a muscle is stretched or torn due to overuse, sudden movement, or impact. Athletes who play sports that involve repetitive movements such as running, jumping, and twisting are at higher risk for muscle strains.

This can manifest as a dull ache or sharp pain in the lower back, limiting your ability to do certain activities. Preventing muscle strains in athletes can be tough, but proper warm-ups, cool-downs, stretching, and gradually upping training intensity can help lower the risk.

In case of a muscle strain, our experienced physicians can provide various treatments to promote healing and relieve pain. These may include physical therapy, massage therapy, and non-invasive techniques like ultrasound orelectrical stimulation.

2. Disc Injuries

Intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae in your spine. Athletes are prone to disc injuries due to the constant stress and impact on their lower back. Disc injuries can range from a bulging orherniated disc, which can cause inflammation and nerve compression, todegenerative disc disease

If you're experiencing lower back pain accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs, it could be a sign of a disc injury.  Proper warm-up, stretching, and strengthening exercises can help prevent disc injuries in athletes.

However, in case of an injury, our team at The Physicians Spine & Rehabilitation Specialists can diagnose and treat disc injuries using conservative treatment or surgical methods as needed. Our goal is to provide a personalized treatment plan that helps you manage pain, improve mobility, and prevent further damage.

3. Spondylolysis/Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are two related conditions that commonly affect young athletes. Spondylolysis or stress fractures in the vertebra, while spondylolisthesis occurs when a vertebra slips out of its normal position. These are more common in athletes participating in sports involving rapid flexion and extension, such as gymnastics, weightlifting, or football.

You may feel a deep, constant ache in your lumbar spine with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. Sometimes it may also radiate to your buttocks and thighs. If left untreated, these conditions can lead to chronic pain and even nerve damage.

At The Physicians Spine  &Rehabilitation Specialists, we offer personalized treatment plans for athletes dealing with spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. Our team includes specialists in physical therapy, pain management, and interventional procedures to provide comprehensive care.

4.Facet Joint Syndrome

Facet joint syndrome, also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, is a common cause of low back pain in athletes. The facet joints are small joints that connect each vertebra in your spine and allow for movement. Repetitive stress or injury to these joints can lead to inflammation and pain.

Athletes who participate in sports that involve repetitive twisting or bending, such as golf or tennis, are more likely to develop facet joint syndrome. Makes pain worse on movement and may be accompanied by stiffness or a grinding sensation in the spine.

Our team at The Physicians Spine & Rehabilitation Specialists can diagnose and treat facet joint syndrome using various non-invasive methods like physical therapy, medication, and injections (steroids ornerve blocks). We also offer minimally invasive procedures likeradiofrequency ablation to provide long-term pain relief.

5.Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal column narrows, putting pressure on the nerves and causing back pain. This can be caused by age-related degeneration or developmental conditions like scoliosis. Athletes with spinal stenosis may experience lower back pain, numbness or weakness in their arms or legs, and difficulty walking.

Maintaining proper posture and body mechanics during physical activity, and incorporating stretching and strengthening exercises can help prevent spinal stenosis. Our team can provide non-surgical treatments like physical therapy, medication (e.g.,  nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers), andinjections to alleviate pain and improve function. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. 

6. Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves sideways, instead of having a straight alignment. It can occur at any age but is most commonly diagnosed during adolescence. Scoliosis can be classified as either structural - where the spine has a fixed curve - or non-structural - where the spine appears curved due to other factors such as muscle imbalances or postural habits.

Athletes with scoliosis may experience back pain, muscle fatigue, and difficulty with certain movements or activities. It can also affect their performance and lead to imbalances in the body.

Regular screenings for scoliosis are important for athletes to catch any changes in their spine early on. Maintaining good posture and incorporating exercises that strengthen the core muscles can help prevent scoliosis from worsening.  If treatment is needed, our team at The Physicians Spine & Rehabilitation Specialists can provide individualized plans to manage pain and improve function.

When to See a Physician

As an athlete, it's important to listen to your body and pay attention to any pain or discomfort you may experience. It's always best to consult with a physician if you experience the following:

  • Persistent or severe pain that does not improve with rest
  • Pain accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs
  • Difficulty performing daily activities due to pain or discomfort
  • Swelling, bruising, or deformity in the affected area

During your visit, our team will perform a thorough physical examination and may order additional tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or CT scans to accurately diagnose your condition. From there, we will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that best suits your needs and helps you get back in the game safely.

Relieve Lower Back Pain with The Physicians!

Athletes face a unique set of challenges when it comes to spinal health, given the demands of their sports and training routines. However, with proper prevention and treatment, they can continue to excel in their athletic pursuits without being hindered by back pain or injuries.

At The Physicians Spine & Rehabilitation Specialists, we are dedicated to helping athletes of all levels recover from spine-related conditions and return to peak performance. Our team of specialists will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and goals.

Don't let lumbar spine injuries hold you back from reaching your full potential - contact us at (770) 679 7000 or schedule a consultation with our experienced team today to get back in the game and be pain-free! 

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