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Back Pain in Teenage Athletes: When to Worry

Back Pain
Teenage athletes often have strong and healthy bodies that resist injury with ease. However, back pain remains a common problem in many teen athletes' lives and may indicate a more serious issue. Therefore, parents of teenage athletes need to know what issues connect with back pain and how to treat this concern.

Back Pain Is Common in Many Teenage Athletes 

A study entitled "Low Back Pain in Young Athletes" stated that back pain - specifically lower back pain - occurred in about 10 to 15 percent of all youth athletes across the nation. Pain in this study happened in sports with more intensive and difficult routines, such as artistic and rhythmic gymnastics.
However, back pain may occur in a wide variety of teenage athletes and often without warning. Even teens who compete in less demanding sports, such as baseball or bowling, may experience injuries. And, often, these injuries occur because teens did little to prevent them during the off-season.
For example, some professionals state that intensive training - such as practicing for hours at a time without cessation - may cause injuries in a young teenager's back. These injuries may also occur if the athlete goes through a lengthy off-period, such as the summer, without exercising much before they start training. Unfortunately, many of these injuries could trigger more severe complications.

Severe Back Pain May Be a Sign of Spinal Pathology 

Occasional back pain in a teenage athlete is not a cause for significant concern. Typically, short-lived pain indicates a strain or a cramp that will go away. However, severe and persistent back pain could be a sign of a more severe problem, particularly spinal pathology. The medical publication The BMJ states the symptoms of acute spinal pathology include:
  • Severe back pain that lasts over four weeks 
  • Pain that wakes a person up in the night
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Issues with the bladder or bowel
  • Recent injuries to the back, i.e., a hard tackle or impact on the football field
  • Difficulties walking or issues with a limp
The regular occurrence of these symptoms indicates that a teen may need more specialized treatment to overcome their back pain. Thankfully, multiple methods of managing back pain are available, including many that strengthen the back and prevent injuries from occurring.

Treatment Helps Manage Back Pain 

Medical website Physiopedia suggests multiple types of treatment and care methods for teenage back pain. First of all, this site recommends educating the teen on methods of back pain prevention. For example, a teenage athlete should maintain proper posture at all times to avoid excessive strain on their back.
Simple body awareness may avoid many issues that poor posture triggers in a teen's back. For example, a teenager who unconsciously corrects their posture helps to minimize any damage that slouching or poor posture could trigger. 
And exercises, such as strengthening, stretching, and relaxing the back muscles also help. A good knee-tochest stretch works the back muscles and manages stiffness and minor pain problems. Teenagers who improve their back strength minimize their risk of injuries and spinal issues. 
When a teen's back is seriously injured, though, treatment methods such as anti-inflammation medication, pain management, physical therapy, and surgery may be needed to improve back strength. These treatment methods provide teenage athletes with the chance to get back on the field or court as soon as possible.

Help Is Available for Teenage Back Pain 

A teen athlete who suffers from back pain deserves relief and the chance to succeed in their favorite sport. Therefore, parents of suffering teenage athletes should call us at Specialists in Pain Management to set up an appointment. We will identify the source of your teenager's back pain and will work hard to ensure that their suffering doesn't last longer than necessary. 

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DISCLAIMER: You will receive a call to remind you of your appointment. If you must cancel your appointment, we would appreciate at least 24 hours notice. No-shows may be charged a missed appointment fee of $25. Please bring your insurance card, a picture ID and your current medications to each visit.