Low back pain in elite track and field athletes

Abstract

Low back pain is a common health problem in the general population, and the same holds for athletes. This pain is due to various causes, and an accurate diagnosis is essential both for the selection of the appropriate therapy and for reasons of differential diagnosis.

Our aim was to record traumas of the lumbar part of the vertebral column in elite track and field athletes, and to report the newer therapeutic procedures that we used depending on diagnosis for the athletes' rehabilitation.

During the time interval 1996 to 2004 we treated 175 athletes with low back pain at the S.E.G.A.S. medical center in Thessaloniki. These athletes had an average age of 21.7 years, and presented with low back pain in 193 cases.

Analytically, in 99of the cases (51,29%) there was due to disk etiology, and it was treated conservatily with mechanical therapy-extention principal and functional spinal segmental stabilization.

One athlete of this category was operated.

Back pain of muscular origin was found in 49 of all cases (27,97%). All of them were treated with the method of myofacial release of trigger points.

Back pain in 36 of the cases(19,17%) was due to trauma of the posterior elements (superior and inferior facet joints - spondylolysis). These athletes were treated conservatily with mechanical therapy- flexion principal and functional spinal segmental stabilization.

One athlete from this category did not manage to return to the level of athletic activity before the trauma

At last, in 2 cases the reason for back pain was sarcoiliitis, and in one case compression vertebral fracture.

Conclusion

Diagnosis is essential for selecting the proper therapy of the low back injuries. Particular attention should be given to the cooperation of the team that approaches the athlete (sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist and coach), in order to avoid recurrent low back injuries.

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