Sports: Gymnastics, Diving, football, golf, hockey, wrestling, tennis
What: A slipped disk in your back is another term for a herniated disk. You have 26 bone vertebrae in your spine that are separated and kept in place by disks full of a jelly-like cushion. When one of these disks slips out of place and presses on a nerve and causes back pain it is a herniated disk.
How: Exercises that can lead to slipped disks include falling, repeatedly straining your back, or suddenly twisting your back violently. This injury occurs mostly in sports like gymnastics and diving where falling is an everyday part of practice.
Treatment: A slipped disk can usually be treated without surgery unless the pain is still really bad after trying all non-surgical methods. The nonsurgical methods include: rest, anti-inflammatory medications Ibuprofen, hot or cold packs, massage, physical therapy and core stabilization exercises, like abdomen exercises, and sometimes steroid injection to the area of the slipped disk to lessen pain and swelling.
Story from athlete (Jaimee Erickson)
I did gymnastics from the age of three to ten. At some point, I fell and my L5 vertebrae slipped. I didn't know about this injury until four years later when I started to pole
vault and hurdle in track. At that point, I started having severe back pain.
I went to a chiropractor to get my back aligned. She recommended I get X-rays of my back, because at this point, I was immobilized by pain. I found out that I had a back condition called spondylolysis in which the L5 vertebrae slips forward and causes pain in the lower back. In most cases it progresses, and the pain is so bad that people eventually get surgery to correct it.
When I first found out I had this injury, my doctor told me to stop all sports with contact or running. As a three-sport land athlete, I was pretty upset about this. My doctor told me I would never be able to play sports seriously in the future, especially not running sports. I started physical therapy and learned the core exercises that would prevent further slippage in my vertebrae.
At first things did not look good for me, as both my physical therapist and doctor were recommending surgery. I surprised everyone with how hard I worked at my core exercises. I worked on the exercises every night for at least thirty minutes.
After building my core strength, and taking three weeks off from running, my back pain greatly decreased. I was never allowed to hurdle or pole vault again, but I was able to continue with field hockey, basketball and the running. I continued to do my core exercises every night and to this day I feel my back falling out if I miss a couple of nights in a row. Today I am playing field hockey at Stanford and have minimal back pain, but most importantly have so far avoided serious back surgery.
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