Athletes and fitness enthusiasts work hard to stay in shape, but they are also at an increased risk for a lumbar hyperextension injury. Lumbar hyperextension injuries happen when the low back is bent backward repeatedly or overarches repeatedly. The repetitive stress can lead to severe complications and damage the nerves, vertebrae, and backbones. Motorized decompression therapy could be a treatment option.
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Lumbar Hyperextension Injury
Injuries can be caused by overuse, improper mechanics and technique, lack of proper conditioning, insufficient stretching, or trauma. When looking for symptoms of lumbar hyperextension injuries, the first is low back pain that is severe and lasts at least a few days while becoming more intense with time. The lower back pain that worsens when extending, or arching the back, in addition to stiffness, muscle spasms, radiating buttock and thigh pain, tight hamstrings, and difficulty standing or walking, can be indicators of a lumbar hyperextension injury. However, this could be difficult to distinguish from other injuries like muscle strain, disc herniation, and stenosis; this is why a proper examination by a medical professional is recommended.
- Initial treatment consists of resting, sitting out from the sport, and other activities that could aggravate the back.
- A doctor may recommend over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
- Heat and ice can also be used to increase circulation and relieve pain.
If hyperextension of the back continues even after rest, it could signify a stress fracture in the vertebrae. This condition is referred to as spondylolysis. Spondylolysis is an overuse injury. It occurs in individuals who participate in sports like gymnastics, diving, volleyball, football, and weight lifting. Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are common in adolescent athletes experiencing lower back pain.
- A doctor may assign a back brace to prevent movement, allowing the bone to heal back together.
- A doctor could also recommend physical therapy for 6-12 weeks after the diagnosis and once the bones have had time to heal.
- Rehabilitation exercises focus on improving back flexibility and strength.
- Athletes can be cleared to return to their sport within 3-6 months.
- Surgery is rarely necessary and only looked into if the individual continues to have persistent pain after 6-12 months of treatment.
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression
- Spinal decompression works by gently stretching the spine.
- This changes the spine’s position, takes the pressure off the nerves and discs, and restores the cushioning.
- As the machine pulls the body, a vacuum effect fills the discs with oxygen and nutrients to stimulate healing.
- Computer technology controls treatment duration, angle, intensity, and relaxation.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are recommended to seek professional help to retrain how they perform repetitive and excessive high-impact activities. Specifically, those involving hyperextension movements like kicking, jumping, running, and back bending help minimize the risk of developing a back injury. They are also recommended to maintain body conditioning, back and hamstring flexibility, core muscle strength and endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and properly warming up and stretching before and after the physical activities.
DOC Decompression Table
Ball, J.R., Harris, C.B., Lee, J. et al. Lumbar Spine Injuries in Sports: Review of the Literature and Current Treatment Recommendations. Sports Med – Open 5, 26 (2019). doi.org/10.1186/s40798-019-0199-7
Carter, D R, and V H Frankel. “Biomechanics of hyperextension injuries to the cervical spine in football.” The American journal of sports medicine vol. 8,5 (1980): 302-9. doi:10.1177/036354658000800502
Goetzinger, Sara, et al. “Spondylolysis in Young Athletes: An Overview Emphasizing Nonoperative Management.” Journal of sports medicine (Hindawi Publishing Corporation) vol. 2020 9235958. 21 Jan. 2020, doi:10.1155/2020/9235958
Lawrence, Kevin J et al. “Lumbar spondylolysis in the adolescent athlete.” Physical therapy in sport: official journal of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine vol. 20 (2016): 56-60. doi:10.1016/j.ptsp.2016.04.003
Low Back Pain: Could it be a Spondy? Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (n.d.). www.nationwidechildrens.org/specialties/sports-medicine/sports-medicine-articles/low-back-pain-could-it-be-a-spondy.
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