Approximately 80% of Americans will suffer from lower back pain at some point. But, some people are at a higher risk due to their career or lifestyle – who is at the highest risk? Arguably, professional athletes.

It is NBA season, and with that comes a crop of back injuries, surgeries and issues that can sideline players. Basketball is a high-impact sport and the strenuous activity leads to overuse injuries, among others. Overuse injuries are also known as training injuries, usually from over-training. They can be caused from overdoing physical activity, continuous strain, or even having bad technique. These injuries are usually minor but can turn into something more serious if not treated.

A peek at this week’s ESPN NBA Injuries list shows five players currently out due to back pain or back injury. Unfortunately, because many of these back conditions and injuries occur due to overuse or aging, many other players are at risk for back injury. Basketball can tend to be a repetitive sport, so overuse injuries happen frequently.

If You Have Back Pain, Don’t Ignore It

University of Maryland report on lower back pain in athletes states that many either ignore their pain, hope it will go away on its own, or take over-the-counter pain relievers to combat it rather than seek out their physician. The reasons for this are to avoid consequences such as having to decrease activity to recover, losing a position, being removed from the team or starting lineup, or letting the team and fans down.

Back Sprains

A common back injury for basketball players, as well us regular people who might play on the weekends, is a back sprain. A low back sprain occurs when ligaments or muscles that stabilize the lower back are stretched and inflamed. Symptoms include lower back pain, and pain that extends down into buttocks and muscle spasms. These symptoms should only last a few days. If they last longer, or if the shooting pain lasts longer, it is a sign of a more serious condition.

Common Back Sprains

The most common injuries for athletes are strain, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, andherniated disc. Spondylolysis is characterized by lower back pain and can evolve into spondylolisthesis. This is a condition in which a bone (vertebra) in the spine slips out of the proper position onto the bone below it. An injury while playing basketball can lead to a stress fracture on one or both sides of the vertebra, causing a spinal bone to become weak and shift out of place.

Herniated Discs

herniated disc is when the inner, jelly-like center of a disc leaks out. It is also called a slipped disc or a ruptured disc. The spine is made up of vertebrae and in between them are discs that work to cushion vertebrae. Herniated discs usually happen due to aging or an injury. For a basketball player, a herniated disc usually happens due to many small traumas over time, or a sudden injury.

Other commonly occurring basketball injuries are ankle, knee and foot injuries. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, sprained ankles and torn ligaments in the knee are most common. Their tips for preventing injury for the average person who plays recreationally include keeping a high level of overall fitness, warming up, stretching and staying hydrated.

If you have a sports-related back injury, or want to learn more about treatment of back pain, contact us. Or call our dedicated Medical Concierge 800-890-1964.