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Sports Back Injuries: Spinal Decompression

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Whenever stepping out onto a playing field or gym, there is a risk of suffering sports back injuries. Back pulls, strain, and sprain injuries are the most common. Low back pain is one of the most prevalent complaints at all levels of competition. 90% of these acute back injuries will heal on their own, usually in about three months. However, sometimes these injuries can be more severe and require professional medical care. Treatment options for different groups of athletes include nonsurgical motorized spinal decompression.

Sports Back Injuries: Spinal Decompression

Sports Back Injuries

Injury mechanisms vary from sport to sport, but there are recommendations regarding spinal decompression treatment for these injuries and return to play. Chiropractic healthcare specialists understand the sport-specific injury patterns and treatment guidelines for athletes following a back injury. Spinal decompression treatments are beneficial and result in higher rates of return to play depending on the specific sport of the injured athlete. A chiropractor will create a personalized spinal decompression treatment plan for the sport-specific context to meet the athlete’s short and long-term needs.

  • An estimated 10–15% of athletes will experience low back pain.
  • All types of sports place increased stress on the lumbar spine through physically demanding and repetitive movements/motions.
  • The repetitive shifting, bending, twisting, jumping, flexion, extension, and spinal axial loading motions contribute to low back pain even though the athletes are in top shape with increased strength and flexibility.
  • Injury patterns demonstrate the increased stresses that athletes place on the lumbar spine.

Common Spine Sports Injuries

Cervical Neck Injuries

  • Stingers are a type of neck injury.
  • A stinger also known as a burner is an injury that happens when the head or neck gets hit to one side, causing the shoulder to be pulled in the opposite direction.
  • These injuries manifest as numbness or tingling in the shoulder from stretching or compressing the cervical nerve roots.

Lumbar Lower Back Sprains and Strains

  • When trying to lift too much weight or using an improper lifting technique when working out with weights.
  • Fast running, quick stopping, and shifting can cause the low back and hip muscles to get overly pulled/stretched.
  • Staying low to the ground and springing/jumping up can cause abnormal stretching or tearing of the muscle fibers.

Fractures and Injuries to the Supporting Spinal Structures

  • In sports that involve repetitive extension movements, spinal stress fractures are relatively common.
  • Also known as pars fractures or spondylolysis, these happen when there is a crack in the rear portion of the spinal column.
  • Excessive and repeated strain to the spinal column area leads to low back pain and injury.

Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression

Nonsurgical spinal decompression is motorized traction that is used to relieve compression pressure, restore spinal disc height, and relieve back pain.

  • Spinal decompression works to gently stretch the spine changing the force and position of the spine.
  • The gel-like cushions between the vertebrae are pulled to open up the spacing taking pressure off nerves and other structures.
  • This allows bulging or herniated discs to return to their normal position and promotes optimal circulation of blood, water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the discs to heal, as well as, injured or diseased spinal nerve roots.

Herniations


DRX 9000 Decompression


References

Ball, Jacob R et al. “Lumbar Spine Injuries in Sports: Review of the Literature and Current Treatment Recommendations.” Sports medicine – open vol. 5,1 26. 24 Jun. 2019, doi:10.1186/s40798-019-0199-7

Jonasson, Pall et al. “Prevalence of joint-related pain in the extremities and spine in five groups of top athletes.” Knee surgery, sports traumatology, arthroscopy: official journal of the ESSKA vol. 19,9 (2011): 1540-6. doi:10.1007/s00167-011-1539-4

Lawrence, James P et al. “Back pain in athletes.” The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons vol. 14,13 (2006): 726-35. doi:10.5435/00124635-200612000-00004

Petering, Ryan C, and Charles Webb. “Treatment options for low back pain in athletes.” Sports health vol. 3,6 (2011): 550-5. doi:10.1177/1941738111416446

Sanchez, Anthony R 2nd et al. “Field-side and prehospital management of the spine-injured athlete.” Current sports medicine reports vol. 4,1 (2005): 50-5. doi:10.1097/01.csmr.0000306072.44520.22

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email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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