The spine, also called the backbone provides stability, smooth movement, and protects the delicate spinal cord. It consists of bony segments called vertebrae and fibrous tissue called intervertebral discs. The vertebrae and discs form a column from the head to the pelvis providing symmetry to the body. The spine is divided into 3 major parts, the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back), and the lumbar (low back) regions.
Sports injuries occur when playing indoor or outdoor sports or while exercising. Some injures occur from accidents and some from inadequate training or inadequate use of protective devices. The most common sports injuries in children are soft-tissue injuries and head injuries. Some injuries are minor such as bruises or sprains while others are permanent injuries. Sports injuries can be acute or chronic, acute injuries occur suddenly when playing or exercising and chronic injuries occur after playing or exercising for long time.
Injury to the spinal cord is caused by a fall or a blow that damages a portion of the spinal cord. Sports associated with spinal cord injuries are, football, ice hockey, wrestling, diving in shallow water, skiing, snowboarding, rugby, and cheerleading. A spinal cord injury often causes weakness and loss of sensation at the site of injury.
Sports such as running and weightlifting damage the lumbar spine, while football can cause cervical spine injury.
Spinal injuries are the most common workplace injuries that may occur while operating heavy machines, lifting heavy objects, driving automobiles, or when you suffer a fall at workplace.
Common spinal injuries you may suffer from include:
- Chronic low back pain
- Dislocation of adjacent bones
- Partial misalignment (subluxation) of adjacent bones
- Disc compression (herniated disc)
- Hematoma (accumulation of blood)
- Partial or complete tears of ligaments
The most common symptom of spinal injuries is pain. Some injuries may damage spinal nerves that may cause inflammation, loss of muscle control and loss of sensation.
The common symptoms include:
- Low back strain or lumbar sprain is one of the common causes of low back pain that occurs as a result of abnormal stretching or tearing of the muscle fibers and ligaments. Low back sprains or strains can be caused by sudden forceful movement, lifting heavy objects, or intense twisting movements.
- Upper back pain occurs as a result of sports that involve throwing action or repetitive practice of a certain stroke, as in racquet sports.
- Back pain can be caused by bicycling, weight lifting, body building, golf, running, skiing, swimming, and tennis.
Some of the measures that can prevent sports-related back injuries include:
- Sufficient stretching of lower and upper back muscles or warm-up exercises before playing sports is necessary to minimize the chances of muscle strains and soft tissue injuries
- Ensure that you use properly fitted protective gear for the specific sports activity to reduce the chances of injury
- Drink at least 8 ounces of energizing fluids every 20 minutes when participating in sports
- If you are hurt, make sure to treat the injury with RICE mode of treatment. Rice is rest, ice, compression, and elevation