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Management of Lumbar Conditions in the Elite Athlete

Hsu, Wellington K. MD; Jenkins, Tyler James MD

JAAOS - Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: July 2017 - Volume 25 - Issue 7 - p 489–498
doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-16-00135
Review Article

Lumbar disk herniation, degenerative disk disease, and spondylolysis are the most prevalent lumbar conditions that result in missed playing time. Lumbar disk herniation has a good prognosis. After recovery from injury, professional athletes return to play 82% of the time. Surgical management of lumbar disk herniation has been shown to be a viable option in athletes in whom nonsurgical measures have failed. Degenerative disk disease is predominately genetic but may be accelerated in athletes secondary to increased physiologic loading. Nonsurgical management is the standard of care for lumbar degenerative disk disease in the elite athlete. Spondylolysis is more common in adolescent athletes with back pain than in adult athletes. Nonsurgical management of spondylolysis is typically successful. However, if surgery is required, fusion or direct pars repair can allow the patient to return to sports.

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.

Dr. Hsu or an immediate family member is a member of a speakers’ bureau or has made paid presentations on behalf of AO North America; serves as a paid consultant to AO North America, Bacterin, Bioventus, CeramTec, Globus Medical, Graftys, LifeNet, Medtronic, Pioneer Medical, Relievant Medsystems, SI-Bone, Stryker Spine, and DePuy Synthes; has received research or institutional support from Medtronic; and serves as a board member, owner, officer, or committee member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Cervical Spine Research Society, the Lumbar Spine Research Society, and the North American Spine Society. Neither Dr. Jenkins nor any immediate family member has received anything of value from or has stock or stock options held in a commercial company or institution related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

Received February 16, 2016

Accepted June 11, 2016

© 2017 by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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