Lower Back Pain in Athletes

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What Is Lower Back Pain?

When athletes have lower back pain, it can impact their ability to be active and participate in sports, as well as cause pain during every day tasks.

Pain that radiates from the tailbone area down into the thighs often indicates there might be an injury in the athlete's lower back.

Lower back pain risk factors and causes in sports

Almost everyone is at risk of having lower back pain at some point in their life, regardless of whether or not you play sports.

If you play a sport, certain motions may put strain on your back muscles and cause pain.

Other factors that can cause lower back pain include:

  • Overuse.
  • Being overweight.
  • Having poor posture.
  • Sitting in a poorly designed chair for a long time.
  • A misalignment in the bones of your spine, or vertebrae.
  • Arthritis in the spine.
  • A small fracture, in rare cases.

Lower back pain complications

Any type of pain can lessen your enjoyment daily activities.

If you play a sport, lower back pain can limit your playing time.

Athletes can cause strain on other parts of their body if the change the way they walk, lift, swing, or throw to reduce back pain.

Make an appointment for lower back pain

To make an appointment or learn more about lower back pain, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about lower back pain

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Make an appointment for lower back pain

If you're an athlete whose lower back pain is preventing you from participating in your sport, schedule an appointment with an expert at UPMC Sports Medicine by calling 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Sports-Related Lower Back Pain Symptoms and Diagnosis

Athletes are at greater risk of sustaining injuries that cause lower back pain.

Lower back pain can come on suddenly. The pain can stay at the same level or become more intense over time.

Lower back pain symptoms

Lower back pain symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • A pulling or twisting feeling

Movement often causes you to hurt more, but sometimes you can feel back pain even when you're still.

Lower back pain diagnosis

To help diagnose your lower back pain, an expert at UPMC Sports Medicine will observe the way you walk and move.

He or she will also ask you about the sports you play and other things you do each day that might cause your back pain.

Along with an exam, certain tests can pinpoint the cause of lower back pain.

Some tests look for issues with hard structures, like your spine or bones.

These may include:

  • X-rays.
  • Bone scans to look for breaks, infection, or tumors in the backbones.
  • Bone density studies to help diagnose osteoporosis.

Other tests look for problems in soft structures, like the nerves and spinal cord

These tests may include:

  • MRI scans to take pictures of the lower back nerves or spinal cord.
  • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) tests to see how well the electrical signals in your nerves send messages to your arms and legs.

Make an appointment for lower back pain symptoms at UPMC Sports Medicine

To make an appointment or learn more about lower back pain symptoms, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about lower back pain symptoms and tests for athletes

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Lower Back Pain Treatment at UPMC Sports Medicine

The first step to wellness is working with an expert at UPMC Sports Medicine to find the root cause of your lower back pain.

After your exam and diagnostic tests for lower back pain, your doctor will review the results and develop the best treatment plan for you.

Lower back pain treatments for athletes and nonathletes may include:

  • An exercise program to strengthen your back and core muscles.
  • A weight loss program.
  • Therapy to improve your posture and how you move.
  • Over-the-counter drugs, like a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen, to help relieve lower back pain symptoms.

If a structural issue — such as osteoporosis — is the cause of your lower back pain, your doctor may address that problem with changes in your diet and exercise.

Make an appointment for lower back pain treatment at UPMC Sports Medicine

To make an appointment for lower back pain treatment, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about lower back pain treatments

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UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

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