Among athletes prevalence of back pain is nearly 30%. This prevalence varies according to the sports being played. For example, back pain is more prevalent in football linemen than in gymnasts.
• There may be differences in the reasons for recovery, but the mechanism and physiology of repair after back pain in athletes are the same as for non-athlete.
• Duration of returning to routine life after back pain is different in athletes as compared to non-athletes.
• Athletes are much more concerned about their fast recovery and early return to routine sports because it is putting a financial burden of millions of dollars on professional athletes.
• Some activities are protective, and others may further increase the risk of back pain in athletes.
• The strength of body structure is different in athletes as compared to non-athletes.
• Although athletes have much more flexibility in their body structures than non-athletes, they are also more prone to injuries.
• Athletes have higher pain thresholds than the general population, but inflammation and the release of chemicals at the injury site are the same in non-athletes.
• Intervertebral disks
• Paraspinal musculature
• Facet joints
• Prior back injury
• Poor conditioning
• Improper playing technique
• Decreased range of motion
• Excessive load
• Abrupt increase in the frequency of training
• Overuse of body structure: Overuse of the same group of muscles causes back pain in athletes.
• Fatigue: Fatigue is prevalent in athletes. Using a muscle for an extended period causes fatigue. It can also lead to sprains and strains of the structures.
• Sprains and strains: Stretch injuries to the ligaments called strains. Stretch injuries to the muscles are called sprains. Both of these are categorized under a heading called soft-tissue injuries. These are because excessive force or high loads tear the structure when the tolerance of the specific structure exceeds. This causes inflammation and pain. On examination, you may have muscle spasms and localized pain that worsen with particular postures or movements.
• Trauma: Traumatic injuries and repetitive microtrauma are also the reasons causing back pain in athletes.
• Disk herniation: It can be associated with trauma to the spine. In this disease, nuclear material escapes into the surrounding epidural space. This escaped material irritates the surrounding nerves and leads to pain.
• Degenerative disk disease: The process of disk degeneration occurs in old age.
• Spondylosis and spondylolisthesis: Athletes doing repetitive extension activities, like gymnasts or football linemen, may have spondylosis.
1. Protect your injured body part from further injury
It is advised to protect it from further damage and avoid strenuous workouts. It’s not recommended to take complete bed rest. It is necessary to continue routine activities of mild intensity but avoid strenuous activities putting too much stress on the body.
2. Avoid movements that exacerbate pain
Avoiding such activities or body positions that can increase painful sensations is necessary.
3. RICE technique
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. It is a widespread technique to be used for minor soft tissue injuries. It helps manage pain and swelling and enhances blood flow to the injured site.
4. PEMF therapy
PEMF therapy is beneficial for acute and chronic back pain. It ensures fast recovery without causing any side effects. The mechanism behind repairing soft tissue injury is to enhance the nutrition required for the injured tissues. PEMF therapy improves blood flow to the wounded site, providing fresh nutrients and removing waste products formed by the metabolic repair process.
Over-the-counter painkillers are the most commonly used medications to relieve back pain in athletes. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications relieve back pain. But their use for a more extended period may cause harmful effects on different body structures. Other groups of medicines used for back pain are muscle relaxants and opioids. But these also have side effects. So, it is advised to use these medications after getting a doctor’s opinion.
You must consult your doctor if you are an athlete suffering from back pain with the following symptoms.
• If the duration of onset of pain is more than three months.
• History of Trauma
• Past history of Cancer
• Pain is associated with neurological deficit
• Pain is related to the urinary problem
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