Sports-Related Back Pain? Common Injury Red Flags and Warning Signs

Whenever you step out onto the playing field or into the gym, you run the risk of suffering some sort of injury. Back injuries are among the most common, whether you’re a committed and competitive athlete or a weekend warrior. Physicians at the Cleveland Clinic review several sports-related back and spine injuries. The frequency of cases can vary somewhat with the sport, but a few of the most common include: Cervical (neck) injuries, lumbar (lower back) sprains and strains, fractures and other injuries to the spine’s supporting structures.

Doctors diagnose spine stress fractures by reviewing an x-ray or CAT scan and usually treat the injuries with a back brace and rest. However, in certain instances these injuries require more aggressive treatment. If you experience any of these warning signs, Dr. Goyal says, you should probably get to a doctor for further evaluation:

  • Your back pain gets progressively worse
  • The pain radiates to your leg(s) or causes weakness
  • You experience bladder or bowel changes
  • Your pain affects your balance or walking
  • Your pain persists for more than two months

“One of the worst things you can do if you have an acute back injury is stay in bed and remain inactive,” Dr. Gladden says. The muscles and supporting structures of the back weaken when you remain in bed for days on end. This can lead to a vicious cycle of continued back pain.

There are ways to reduce your risk of suffering a serious back injury. Try these suggestions:

  • Strengthen your core.
  • Use proper form and technique when lifting or performing.
  • Warm up and stretch.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Maintain ideal body weight

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