Dr. Frank Phillips, co-director of the MOR Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, conducted a study on return to play after spinal fusion that was recently published in SportsHealth. Dr. Phillips found that more than 50 percent of golfers return to play within one year of lumbar fusion surgery and some were even sooner. In general, most golfers returned to preoperative levels of performance (handicap) and frequency of play.
Intro by Megan Wilson: In today’s world, technology is king—and it has helped make us more sedentary than at any other time in human history. Is it any wonder that back pain affects 80 percent of us at some point in our lives? The good news is research shows that regular activity can significantly reduce back pain. Taking a few minutes every day for simple, easy stretches and basic core-stabilization exercises can help you feel more comfortable and make you more mobile. Use the infographic below to get started!
- Stress fractures in the low back (lumbar spine) are injuries that can result in months off from sport and in some instances can lead to withdrawal from the sport
- Many types of low back pain can be managed early on, before anything serious happens
- Seek qualified medical care for pain that doesn’t improve after a few days of rest and simple treatment, or for pain that is affecting performance
One of the high schools where I’m team physician appears to be having a mini- epidemic of low back (lumbar spine) stress fractures. We were going through our fall season injury stats with our athletic trainers this week, and I was surprised to see that low back pain was now the third most common main complaint of the athletes we saw in the training room, and an alarming number of those young athletes turned out to have stress fractures of the lumbar spine.
Stress fractures of the lumbar spine, and stress fractures anywhere in the body are reportedly uncommon. A study published in 2014 by Changstrom and colleagues found that in the high school athlete population, stress fractures accounted for only 0.8% of reported injuries across 8 seasons.
When I first started my orthopedic practice in the early 1990s I’d have to say I didn’t think too much about stress fractures. We simply weren’t trained to put it near the top of our thought processes when evaluating young athletes with pain. Then a series of studies principally focused on military recruits started to raise our suspicions. Furthermore, improved understanding of the role of low bone mineral density, low energy availability, the female athlete triad, and the prevalence of overuse injuries in young athletes has heightened the team physician’s awareness even further.
The result of all those years of improved knowledge means that as an orthopedic team physician I’m much more aware of the possibility of a stress fracture. In the low back I’ve become much more attuned to some signs that would indicate the need for proper imaging studies. A sudden start of pain, possibly associated with a “pop” is a red flag. Pain that doesn’t improve in spite of several days of rest is another red flag. Localized tenderness on one side of the spine can be a sign of an underlying stress fracture. And a young athlete who feels she/he simply can’t play is a big red flag.
Still in spite of improved awareness I have the feeling we’re not doing enough in the earliest phases of the problem. A stress fracture is one of those classically preventable problems, where rest and treatment early on might result in a short time off from play, but playing through and then treating at the stress fracture phase can result in months off from play, and sometimes withdrawal from the sport. For me it means that our trainers, physicians, and strength coaches are going to have a very close look at all athletes with low back pain and be very cautious about return to play. We may end up sitting more kids out early but I’d rather do that than lose them for months.
If you’re a parent of a young athlete with low back pain I’d urge a cautious approach for you too. If you hear complaints of low back pain from your son or daughter, if it lasts more than a few days, or if it’s affecting their play I’d strongly recommend early evaluation from a qualified physician. Don’t let this injury become a game-ender.
In this West Suburban Living magazine feature, ‘Relieving Back Pain,’ two Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush physicians talked about the spectrum of treatment options available to patients. Dr. Edward Goldberg, spine surgeon, says, “After about age 40, many of us are walking around with minor spine arthritis and herniated discs without even knowing it. By age 70, we don’t see new hernias because the discs are too worn out to herniate. Older people are seeking treatment more often now than they did in the past because they are still physically active and they want to stay that way.”
Dr. Madhu Singh, interventional physiatrist, explains, “I’m here to help patients exhaust every conservative measure we can before resorting to surgery. Most back injuries can be successfully treated without surgery, so it makes sense to avoid the complications and risks of going through surgery if possible.”
In addition to common ailments like lower back pain, physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for conditions like vertigo and headaches. Discover what other conditions can benefit from physical therapy by checking out the big list featured below:
ACL tears sideline more than 200,000 athletes each year according to data from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. To help prevent this injury, Athletico Physical Therapy offers the 3P Program, which helps patients strengthen muscles surrounding the knee, core, hip and lower leg. For those who have already undergone ACL surgery, physical therapy can help with the rehabilitation process.
Arthritis refers to the degradation of a joint surface causing inflammation within the joint. Therapeutic interventions can be helpful in reducing pain associated with arthritis, and physical therapy can also help to improve overall function.
Most people will experience back pain in their life and physical therapy can prove to be an effective treatment option. Upon meeting with a physical therapist for back pain, the first step is an evaluation followed by an individualized plan to address the patient’s specific needs.
Concussions have increasingly been in the news the last few years, but many people don’t know that physical therapy can help with a variety of long term concussion symptoms, like dizziness, balance problems and headaches. In fact, Athletico Physical Therapy offers a Head Injury and Concussion Management program that assists individuals who have had a concussion or participate in an activity where there is potential for a concussion.
Physical therapy can help alleviate headaches that are a result of musculoskeletal issues, including muscle tension and tightness, disc pathology, lack of neck motion, poor posture or tightness in the back between the shoulder blades. Based on each patient’s individual needs, treatment options range from the use of heat or ice to posture education.
Jaw Pain (TMJ/TMD)
The joint used to move the jaw, called the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), is one of the most frequently used joints in the body. Acute or chronic inflammation of the TMJ is referred to as Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD/TMJ Syndrome). Physical therapy options for this ailment include manual therapy, anti-inflammatory modalities, posture correction, therapeutic exercises, and modifications to physical activity and diet.
Plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Treatment options vary and can range from simple calf stretches to conducting a walking analysis.
Sciatica, which is a low back problem that causes pain down the leg, is another condition that can be treated by physical therapy. Treatment can include anything from muscle energy techniques to core strengthening exercises.
If you are experiencing bladder leaking or the urge to make frequent restroom trips, you may suffer from urinary incontinence. Physical therapy can help by increasing the strength, stability and endurance of the core, transverse abdominals, hip muscles and pelvic floor.
Vertigo, which causes a spinning sensation or feelings of dizziness, can often times be treated with physical therapy. Treatment options include canal repositioning maneuvers, exercises to improve balance, manual treatment of the cervical spine and more.
Whiplash describes an injury to the neck area that usually involves a rapid movement into extension and flexion. Often times this type of injury is associated with car accidents, but it can also occur as a result of participation within high-velocity, contact sports like football. Those who visit a physical therapist for their whiplash symptoms will typically go through a spine movement assessment. Based on the findings, a specific exercise program will be put in place along with other treatment options, including massage, manual stretches and range of motion exercises.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conditions physical therapy can treat. If you think physical therapy may benefit you, please contact one of our clinics for a complimentary injury screening.