Back Problems In Child Athletes

Young Athletes and Back Problems

A question I often hear from parents of young athletes is whether they are doing harm to their bodies by participating in a sport. I am also frequently asked about low back pain and disk herniation. Here is some of the latest research on the subject.

Latest Study:

A study was conducted on adolescent medical records from a single institution from 2004 until 2012 to see what, if any, effect intense athletic participation had on the adolescents’ low backs. The athletes participated in sports activities 5 days a week, 20 hours a week, or were part of a varsity team. There was also a group of non-athletes used as a control group for the study. The low back x-rays and MRI’s of the participants were evaluated for any abnormalities.


The researchers found that athletes were 32% more likely to have spondylosis.

Athletic activity did not seem to put the adolescents at an increased risk for disc degeneration or disc herniation compared to non-athletes.


Lumbar spine spondylosis is a way of describing degeneration of the spine in the low back. Often times it is used to describe osteoarthritis of the spine.

Many people with spondylosis do not have any symptoms. Out of all people with lumbar spondylosis present, approximately 27%-37% of them do not have any symptoms.

Although it is not possible to reverse spondylosis (it is a natural degenerative process that can come with age) there are things you can do if you become symptomatic.

Less invasive procedure such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, proper diet, and exercise can be used to help relieve pain. If these methods do not work medication, injections, or surgery may be beneficial.

sports low back

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Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.



Schroeder G. The role of intense athletic activity on structural lumbar abnormalities in adolescent patients with symptomatic low back pain. Presented at: Philadelphia Spine Research Symposium; Oct. 28, 2014; Philadelphia.