Spine Injuries in the Sport of Gymnastics

Kruse, David1; Lemmen, Brooke2

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181967ca6
Section Articles: Spine Conditions

Injury in gymnastics is not an uncommon occurrence, and an injury of the spine frequently is a source of pain in a gymnast. Because of the unique demands of this sport, which repetitively place significant forces across the spine, it becomes clear why the spine commonly is injured. Potential causes of back pain in a gymnast include spondylolysis, Scheuermann's disease, intervertebral disc pathology, and mechanical sources of pain. Much of the diagnostic workup and management of spondylolysis lesions remains controversial, but a successful management strategy can be developed for the safe return of a gymnast to the mat. Mechanical sources of pain are common and should be addressed. Psychosocial etiologies of back pain also exist in these athletes. Rehabilitation strategies should focus on improvement in the strength and function of the trunk and lumbar spine and the correction of biomechanical deficits with a goal of pain-free transition back to gymnastic-specific activities.

1Assistant Clinical Professor, Director, Primary Care Sports Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, University of California, Irvine, UC Irvine Healthcare Gottschalk Medical Plaza, Irvine, CA; 2Third Year Resident, Family Medicine, Sparrow/MSU Family Medicine Residency, Lansing, MI

Address for correspondence: David Kruse, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Director, Primary Care Sports Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, University of California, Irvine, UC Irvine Healthcare Gottschalk Medical Plaza, 2100 Medical Plaza Dr., Irvine, CA 92697 (E-mail: krused@uci.edu).

© 2009 American College of Sports Medicine