For athletes and non-athletes out there, experiencing back pain at some point in life cannot be avoided. It is a known fact that the muscles, joints, bones, tendons, ligaments and disks at the back all work together in order to prevent any injuries from occurring. Even though all of these parts function well, there are some back injuries that could not be avoided. Among athletes, they are at risk for back pain when engaging in sports or exercise regularly, in a vigorous manner or over an extended period of time.
The most common back injuries that can affect athletes include spondylolysis, back strain, herniated disk and spondylolisthesis. Take note that the causes, symptoms and treatment option tend to vary, thus it is a big mistake to consider all low back issues as a single condition.
How back pain occurs
Due to the complexity of the structures in the back, there is no single mechanism that is responsible for the lower back pain and injuries. Back strains are usually tears on the ligaments or tendons. This is considered as the most common sports injuries. A strain can occur after abrupt or awkward movements.
Structural problems can also result to lower back pain and can accompany strains. The protruding disk can press on a nerve. Once it presses against the nerve that extends downward the leg, it causes shooting pain known as sciatica that can affect the buttocks and back of the leg.
Irregularities with the bones such as scoliosis which is a side-to-side deviation of the spinal column can cause pain in the upper, middle or lower back. Take note that lower back pain is quite common among those who suffer from osteoarthritis.
Who are at risk for back pain?
Any individual who places stress on the spine are at risk to a back strain. Individuals who engage in running, skiing, golf, lacrosse, skating, football, basketball and tennis also face the risk for suffering back pain.
Symptoms of back pain
- Pain in the lower back
- Muscle spasms in the lower back
It is best to consult a doctor if the back pain is intense, causes weakness or numbness, spreads to one or both legs or occurs after a blow to the back or fall.
Treatment for back pain
It is important to rest the back for 24-48 hours but the individual should not stay completely immobile. Take note that mild yet limited movement is better than bed rest. You can apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at a time for 3-4 times in a day for the initial 48-72 hours. You can learn how to use ice as a treatment of injuries by enrolling in a first aid class.
Over-the-counter medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen and aspirin can be given to minimize the pain and inflammation. If the individual sleeps on his/her side, position a pillow between the knees. In case he/she sleeps on his/her back, place a pillow beneath the knees of the individual.