Muscle strains and Ligament sprains are the most common injuries that cause back pain in the young athlete. They can be caused by athletic overuse, improper body mechanics and technique, lack of proper conditioning, insufficient stretching, as well as trauma. The athlete will complain of back pain with activity and will feel relief with rest.
Initial treatment may require a period of rest and removing the athlete from sports participation. Treatments may include medication and special exercise. Ice can be used along with pain medications, which should be used sparingly. In addition, other measures to control pain and restore motion are commonly used. Initially, ice and medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories can be used. For persistent symptoms, particularly those associated with muscle spasm, heat may also be very helpful.
As pain decreases, the injured athlete should be shown proper exercise to assist recovery. An exercise program can be very beneficial to improve flexibility and strength of the appropriate muscles for athletic performance as well as to help decrease risk for another similar injury. It is also important to maintain aerobic conditioning during treatment for back pain. Aerobic exercise needs to be tailored to the athlete and performed as pain allows. The repetitive overuse of the spine (particularly rotation) should be avoided, at least initially. Before being released to return to play, sport-specific exercises that mimic activities of athletic competition are often included in the exercise program. It is also always important to evaluate and correct poor technique and mechanics that may have predisposed the athlete to the initial injury.