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Interventional Spine Procedures in Athletes

Petron, David J. MD;1; Prideaux, Cara C. MD;2; Likness, Lincoln DO3

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3182770585
Special Populations: Section Articles

Back pain is common in athletes and a source of missed time from practice and competition. Pain generators include muscle (strain), ligament (myofascial sprain and strain), intervertebral disc (herniation and degeneration), nerve (radiculopathy), joint (facet and sacroiliac (SI) joint), and bones (pars interarticularis defect). The goal of treatment of an athlete with back pain is to relieve symptoms and facilitate safe but rapid return to play with no change in performance. Initial conservative treatment includes relative rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. The use of interventional spine procedures in athletes with back pain has gained popularity as a nonoperative treatment option. Although there is lack of high-quality evidence of these procedures specifically in athletes, this article will discuss the utility of selective nerve root blocks, epidural steroid injections, intradiscal injections, pars interarticularis injection, facet joint interventions (intraarticular injection, medial branch block, and radiofrequency neurotomy), and SI joint interventions (intraarticular injection and radiofrequency neurotomy).

1Department of Orthopedics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; 2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; and 3Hudson’s Physicians, Hudson, WI

Address for correspondence: David J. Petron, MD, Department of Orthopaedics, University Orthopaedic Center, University of Utah, 590 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84121; E-mail:

© 2012 American College of Sports Medicine