What is a Stress Fracture of the Back?
A stress fracture of the back, or lumbar spine, is one of the more common bone injuries in young tennis players. Lower back stress fractures are usually characterised by an ache in the lower back which is exacerbated by sporting activities and eased by rest, although a small percentage of people with a stress fracture can be pain free. Typically it is sore when the patient bends backwards, particularly if standing on one leg. If a lower back stress fracture is suspected, a doctor may decide to refer the patient for a scan to confirm the diagnosis.
What can you do to prevent a Stress Fracture?
Serving in tennis requires a combination of spinal hyperextension (bending back) together with rotation and side bending of the trunk. This puts a lot of stress on an area of the VertebraOne of the 33 bones that make up the spine. They comprise of a weight bearing 'body' at the front, and spinous processes at the back which act as attachment points for muscles.','',250)" onmouseout=hideddrivetip() ;>vertebra called the Pars Interarticularis and this is where stress fracture develops.
Practising the service should be carefully monitored by the coach to ensure the lower back is not being overloaded. This is particulary important in adolescent players who have just experienced a growth spurt as they are known to be more at risk from this injury. Core stability exercises can help prevent back problems in tennis players.
What should you do if you suffer a Stress Fracture of the Back?
In most cases, complete rest from tennis is the treatment of choice. This would usually be for a period of 6 weeks to allow the bone to heal. In the early stages, a soothing heat pack can reduce back pain and alleviate back muscle spasm. During this period, a progressive exercise programme may commence, under the supervision of a Chartered PhysiotherapistA member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, signified by the initials MCSP.','',250)" onmouseout=hideddrivetip() ;>chartered physiotherapist. This usually starts with exercises to increase the muscular stability in the lower back.
Research has shown that a lack of muscular stability in the lumbar and pelvic regions can lead to low back pain and stress fractures. The principle behind the core stability exercises is that if certain specific muscles can be recruited or contracted, the spine will have much better support. This prevents postural faults which can predispose a person to back pain.
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICEThe articles on this web site are provided for general information only and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or treatment. All exercises and information featured on this web site should only be practised under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.