Whenever stepping out onto a playing field or gym, there is a risk of suffering sports back injuries. Back pulls, strain and sprain injuries are the most common. Low back pain is one of the most prevalent complaints at all levels of competition. 90% of these acute back injuries will heal on their own, usually in about three months. However, sometimes these injuries can be more severe and require professional medical care. Treatment options for different groups of athletes include nonsurgical motorized spinal decompression.
Sports Back Injuries
Injury mechanisms vary from sport to sport, but there are recommendations regarding spinal decompression treatment for these injuries and return to play. Chiropractic healthcare specialists understand the sport-specific injury patterns and treatment guidelines for athletes following a back injury. Spinal decompression treatments are beneficial and result in higher rates of return to play depending on the specific sport of the injured athlete. A chiropractor will create a personalized spinal decompression treatment plan for the sport-specific context to meet the athlete’s short and long-term needs.
An estimated 10–15% of athletes will experience low back pain.
All types of sports place increased stress on the lumbar spine through physically demanding and repetitive movements/motions.
The repetitive shifting, bending, twisting, jumping, flexion, extension, and spinal axial loadingmotions contribute to low back pain even though the athletes are in top shape with increased strength and flexibility.
Injury patterns demonstrate the increased stresses that athletes place on the lumbar spine.
Common Spine Sports Injuries
Cervical Neck Injuries
Stingers are a type of neck injury.
A stinger is also known as a burner is an injury that happens when the head or neck gets hit to one side, causing the shoulder to be pulled in the opposite direction.
These injuries manifest as numbness or tingling in the shoulder from stretching or compressing the cervical nerve roots.
Lumbar Lower Back Sprains and Strains
When trying to lift too much weight or using an improper lifting technique when working out with weights.
Fast running, quick stopping, and shifting can cause the low back and hip muscles to get overly pulled/stretched.
Staying low to the ground and springing/jumping up can cause abnormal stretching or tearing of the muscle fibers.
Fractures and Injuries to the Supporting Spinal Structures
In sports that involve repetitive extension movements, spinal stress fractures are relatively common.
Excessive and repeated strain to the spinal column area leads to low back pain and injury.
Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression
Nonsurgical spinal decompression is motorized traction that is used to relieve compression pressure, restore spinal disc height, and relieve back pain.
Spinal decompression works to gently stretch the spine changing the force and position of the spine.
The gel-like cushions between the vertebrae are pulled to open up the spacing taking pressure off nerves and other structures.
This allows bulging or herniated discs to return to their normal position and promotes optimal circulation of blood, water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the discs to heal, as well as, injured or diseased spinal nerve roots.
DRX 9000 Decompression
Ball, Jacob R et al. “Lumbar Spine Injuries in Sports: Review of the Literature and Current Treatment Recommendations.” Sports medicine – open vol. 5,1 26. 24 Jun. 2019, doi:10.1186/s40798-019-0199-7
Jonasson, Pall et al. “Prevalence of joint-related pain in the extremities and spine in five groups of top athletes.” Knee surgery, sports traumatology, arthroscopy: official journal of the ESSKA vol. 19,9 (2011): 1540-6. doi:10.1007/s00167-011-1539-4
Lawrence, James P et al. “Back pain in athletes.” The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons vol. 14,13 (2006): 726-35. doi:10.5435/00124635-200612000-00004
Petering, Ryan C, and Charles Webb. “Treatment options for low back pain in athletes.” Sports health vol. 3,6 (2011): 550-5. doi:10.1177/1941738111416446
Sanchez, Anthony R 2nd et al. “Field-side and prehospital management of the spine-injured athlete.” Current sports medicine reports vol. 4,1 (2005): 50-5. doi:10.1097/01.csmr.0000306072.44520.22
Getting back to the house and eating a regular meal post a spinal operation is one of those moments when more is better. This means more:
Healthy foods to help the body recover quicker
The time after neck or back surgery is not only a time for the spine to heal, but for the entire body to go through a recovery process. It is a generally slow progression, but once you are able to eat normally, a high-quality diet/meal plan will help ensure a smooth and speedy recovery. �
The first few days after arriving home there could be nausea, which is common coming out of anesthesia and beginning pain medication. Appetite could be diminished, which is just fine because the gastrointestinal tract needs time to get back functioning properly after spine surgery.
A positive sign that the digestive system is beginning to work properly is the ability to pass gas. Recovery in a hospital, the surgical team slowly transitions from a clear liquid diet to a soft diet and finally to solid food.
Once out of the hospital, the body should be ready to eat normally. Your surgical team will discuss and provide the individual with a specific meal plan, but a general approach to a post-spine surgery diet typically follow these parameters:
Post spine surgery, the body’s metabolism increases in order to heal. So the body needs extra calories, around twice as much for proper recovery. It is very important that these extra calories are from healthy foods like:
� These will provide the body with extra vitamin C and other nutrients that the body needs for healing a wound and the recovery process that goes with it.
Protein is the key nutrient required for post-surgery healing and recovery. Extra calories should come from:
� Low-fat dairy is a good source of protein that provides calcium and vitamin D for bone restoration. High-protein foods are often high in zinc, which is essential in fighting infections.
Eat More Small Meals
Rather than eating three regular-sized meals, try to eat four to six small, well-balanced meals. These should be spaced throughout the day into the evening. These will be easier on the digestive system, especially when increasing the calorie intake.
Supplement Shakes or Smoothies
Smoothies and shakes are a great way to boost calories and protein post-op. Make them with milk, soymilk, yogurt, or other high-protein food or beverage as the base. There are also prepared shakes or smoothies at the supermarket or drug store that are specifically prepared to boost calories and protein. �
Vitamins and Minerals
The surgeon will more than likely recommend vitamin and mineral supplements, along with other dietary supplements to promote healing. Be sure to get a doctor�s approval before taking any other supplements during recovery. �
Water and Fiber
Pain medication can cause constipation. The most important thing to do is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. This is vital to the healing process. Eat plenty of high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. There is also a natural laxative effect from drinking prune juice or eating prunes, which are dried plums. �
If there is any trouble following the post-op diet plan or any questions about food or supplements, contact the surgeon, dietitian, or a health coach/nutritionist. At a follow-up appointment, ask how long the special diet will have to last so you can plan accordingly.
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF)�is a procedure that treats chronic neck conditions and is the most common spinal surgery performed in the U.S.�30 percent of Americans a year experience neck pain, chronic neck pain and radiculopathy or pain that spreads out and radiates to other parts of the body, in this case down the arms.
It�s a procedure that can work wonders, but as many as two-thirds of patients continue to manage neck pain and dysfunction after ACDF. One of the best ways of managing neck pain and dysfunction is to exercise. Research shows that a prescribed exercise program right after surgery can help lessen the pain and create less dependence on medications. A 2020 study published in SPINE suggests that patients that began therapeutic exercises right away had better results than individuals that started an exercise program after the six-week checkup/examination.
What Anterior Cervical Discectomy Fusion Treats
The procedure is performed on individuals with degenerative disc disease or a bulging or herniated disc. These conditions can cause the spinal disc to place pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots that branch out, creating:
Weakness in one or both arms
Most individuals that are recommended to undergo the surgery experience symptoms that don�t respond to non-surgical therapies or medication/s. A significant symptom is hand/arm weakness and arm pain that�s worse than the neck pain.
The ACDF procedure is broken into two parts: a discectomyand a fusion. Anterior means in front and in this case it’s the front of the neck that the surgeon accesses the damaged discs.�In a discectomy, the surgeon removes a portion/s or all of an intervertebral disc/s to release the pressure on the nerves. The fusion part fuses the two vertebrae together. This eliminates the painful movements. A bone graft is inserted between the vertebrae at the spot where the disc was removed. The bone graft serves as a structural scaffold that the body uses to build new tissue and cause the vertebrae to grow together.
The graft can come from three sources:
Your own bone called an autograft, this is usually a piece of bone from the pelvis just above where the front jean pocket would be.
Bone donation called an allograft that comes from a cadaver from a bone donor bank.
Substitute material/s like man-made plastic, ceramic, or bioresorbable compounds.
Home Exercise Program
There are those that are of the opinion to hold off on physical therapy or exercise until about six weeks post-ACDF when recovery is established. However, the study suggests it is more effective to begin a home exercise program (HEP) as soon as possible. At this time telemedicine is the replacement for in-person physical therapy sessions but works just as well. The study examined 28 individuals’ outcomes over 12-months post-operation.
The participants were divided into two groups:� Standard care and Early HEP. Both groups went through the standard postoperative care, along with medication, a cervical collar or neck brace, and restrictions of certain activities. The standard care group received physical therapy referral six weeks after surgery while the early HEP group was given a home exercise program to perform during the postoperative six-weeks.
This included walking and sleeping instructions and a range of motion/strengthening exercises. A cognitive-behavioral strategy was also given to help relax. The participants would phone-conference with a physical therapist on a weekly basis. Exercises increased in difficulty every two weeks, based on the therapists’ judgment. When compared to the standard care group, the early HEP group reported a reduction in short-term neck pain and were less likely to be using pain meds/opioids twelve months after their surgery.
Recovery time after ACDF surgery typically lasts about four to six weeks. If the bone graft was from the pelvis, there could be pain, soreness, and stiffness. To minimize discomfort, try not to sit or lie down for long periods. And remember to change position or take a quick short walk down the hall, to the kitchen, etc. every 20-30 minutes. If you are referred to physical therapy combine it with the home exercise program. The therapist will teach you exercises and proper form. Exercising ten minutes every day is far more effective than doing 45 minutes once a week.
Resuming normal activities gradually is crucial. No pain, no gain does not apply when recovering from ACDF surgery. Recovery exercises can feel great. However, pain and fatigue can sneak up the next day or the following week. Gradually easing back into daily activities can help avoid major setbacks. Work, shopping, house chores, childcare, and lawn care all fall into the activity category.
A recurrence of neck pain after recovery is normal. However,�discomfort can be minimized by taking a few precautions.
Use proper form when lifting
Keep objects close to the body
Keep the back flat as you lift
Maintain neutral neck position
Be aware of your posture when sitting, standing, walking, and sleeping
Gradually increase the exercise program
Don’t overdo it
Address underlying fear/anxiety
Fear of generating pain can cause tension and exacerbate or even create new pain symptoms
Stop smoking, as it has shown to impede the fusion and heighten the risk for complications
ACDF surgery can improve quality of life. Your surgeon is responsible for performing the procedure, it�s up to the individual to follow through with an exercise program and proper ergonomics for optimal results.
Neck Pain Treatment
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