Spine Care for Teen Athletes
May 12, 2016
Tips For Keeping Teens Active And Healthy from a Spine Care Specialist
As a general rule, today’s teens are more sedentary and internet-focused than ever before, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the patients Dr. Jaideep Chunduri is seeing. “In my practice, we’re seeing kids who are very, very active, playing multiple sports throughout the year,” he comments. Chunduri is an orthopedic surgeon and spine care specialist with the nationally recognized sports medicine practice, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.
Not only is he treating teens that are more active, he’s seeing more young patients for back injuries than ever before. In his 13 years of practice, Dr. Chunduri has seen an increase in the number of teens coming to him with complaints of chronic back pain, sometimes pain they have been fighting for one or two years. “We’re seeing more and more, just because kids are playing multiple sports and don’t really have a chance to rest their back or rest their body. We’re also pushing kids towards select sports, in which they play one sport year-round.”
If your teen complains of back pain, don’t just wait for the pain to go away or adopt a “be tough and play through it” mentality. According to Dr. Chunduri, “Any kind of pain when you’re a teenager is abnormal.” Pain that lasts for a day or so and then goes away might not be a big deal, but pain that occurs every time your teen completes a certain action, like swinging a tennis racket, should be cause for concern. “Back pain that keeps you from doing things is not normal,” notes Chunduri, referring the teens he sees that fight through pain for a year or more before coming to him.
If back pain occurs every day or lasts longer than six months, or if you experience back pain that interferes with daily activities like school or sport participation, Dr. Chunduri recommends seeking out a sports medicine facility like his practice. Beacon Orthopaedics prides itself on seeing and diagnosing patients quickly. Teen athletes are diagnosed using a combination of physical examinations, X-rays and MRIs. Information is then shared among the doctors and specialists at Beacon so that teens can be treated, healed fully, and get back on the field quickly.
For the spine care of any athlete, especially teens, injury prevention is ideal. The key to preventing back pain is a combination of flexibility and strength: flexibility in the hamstrings and strength in the core. Chunduri recommends sit-ups and planks for strengthening core, and encourages athletes to work on touching their toes. “All the muscles that surround your back, including hip flexors and trapezius muscles, need to be strong,” says Chunduri. Don’t wait until your back already hurts — start now to avoid pain later.