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Low Back Pain in Adolescent Athletes

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By Michelle Wieber, PT, ATC

When you give up on the Olympic gymnast dream (can you find Michelle Schulte-Wieber in this Ohio State University 1989 picture?) and try tai chi instead…..

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Your back might thank you for it. Spondylolysis continues to be the most common cause of low back pain in adolescent athletes. There has been some debate as to how long an athlete should wait before starting PT and returning to sport. The results of this study found that patients who began PT with a shorter period of rest (<10 weeks) returned to sport 25 days sooner and with no adverse effects. For athletes, this time difference will be important to them and will help reduce weight gain, muscle atrophy, and increased anxiety of return to sport which may occur with longer time off. Starting PT sooner allowed these athletes to return to full activity within 3-5 months of initial injury rather than 5-7 months which used to be more common. This finding may be of special interest to physicians who may be used to delaying initiation of PT for fear of exacerbating the spondylolytic injury. If you have questions about a back injury, sign up for our free phone consultation and get your questions answered by our team of top notch physical therapists!

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