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Table 1 Sport specific lumbar spine injuries and treatment outcomes

From: Lumbar Spine Injuries in Sports: Review of the Literature and Current Treatment Recommendations

Sport Epidemiology Prognosis
American football Up to 30.9% of injuries are lumbar spine related [8]. Twenty-eight percent of lumbar injuries are disc herniations [9]. Avulsions, spondylosis, and strains are also prevalent. Surgical repair of disc herniation may have return to play advantages [10]. Similar outcomes with microdiscectomy and non-surgical treatments [11].
Ice hockey Ninety-five percent of players report lumbar pain in final year of play [12]. Thoracolumbar and lumbosacral account for approximately 12% of on-ice spine injuries [13]. Lumbar spondylolysis was diagnosed in 44% of youth ice hockey players complaining of lower back pain [14]. Surgical repair of disc herniations was associated with decreased return to play rates [15, 16]. Return to baseline level of performance during second and third season post-injury [16].
Basketball 10.2% of all injuries involve the lumbar spine [17]. Sprain and strain, lumbar disc degeneration, and lumbar contusions account for 7.9%, 0.9%, and 0.9% of the total injuries respectively [17]. Surgery for disc herniation resulted in decreased performance during the first season after injury. Pre-injury skill returned during second and third season post-surgery [15, 16].
Baseball 89.5% of players report lower back pain during career [18]. 35.1% and 22.8% of players showed signs of L5/S1 or L4/L5 disc degeneration respectively [18]. Hitters and infielders had faster return to play time with nonsurgical interventions whereas there was no difference for pitchers [19].
Soccer (European football) 76.6% of players report low back pain during career [18]. Three percent of injuries occurring in soccer are lumbar spine related [20]. Strains, sprains, spondylosis, and fractures occur in soccer. The most serious injuries are often the result of contact with another player which can lead to fracture. Fractures resulted in the longest recovery time followed by bony and soft tissue injuries. Repetitive wear and tear type injuries also occur and tend to persist.
Dance The lumbar spine is the second most commonly injured site [21]. Spondylolysis is the most common injury type seen [22]. The combination of repetitive hyperflexion and poor technique contribute to injury [23]. Males are prone to injury due to lifts they perform [21]. Forty-six percent of injured dancers had to limit up to half of the activity and 5% needed to limit more than half of activity [24].
Gymnastics Evidence of disc degeneration is as prevalent as 75% in elite athletes [25]. Studies demonstrate an 11% incidence rate of spondylolysis [26]. In general, these injuries are well managed non-surgically, but there is not currently data specific to gymnasts.
Skiing and snowboarding Lumbar spine is the most common site injured, includes compression, burst, and transverse or spinous process fractures [27, 28]. In snowboarders, injury is associated with failed jumps and the subsequent axial loads. The mechanism of injury in skiers is associated with downhill falls forward at high velocities [27, 29, 30]. Spinal cord injuries are more commonly seen with cervical spine injuries, and less common with thoracic and lumbar spine injuries [31]. Most injuries are managed non-operatively.