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Son out with spondy and having a hard time

3crazymonkeys

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May 11, 2016
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Hi. I’m just looking for any advice or maybe just a shoulder to cry on. My son is 10 1/2. He has been at his current gym since he was 19 mos old. Started in a parent/tot class while his sister did a gym class. He has been on team since he was 5 1/2. He loves gymnastics but then it’s also all he knows. I think the social aspect and all his good long time friends there plays a part as well. In November, right after his practice meet, he started complaining of back pain. I took him to the sports doctor and he had an MRI. He was diagnosed with bilateral stress fractures at his L4. We were told 3 months of no physical activity. If healing we would then do PT for a few months and could ease back to gym. We had our follow up a couple weeks ago along with a CT scan to check healing. The CT showed that at some point he also had bilateral stress fractures at his L5. His left side healed into a mass of bone. His right shows no sign of any healing and is considered “chronic”. His L4’s show they are still in the process of trying to heal. He never had pain with the L5 and is currently pain free unless he’s bent back pretty far during doctor exam. His doctor said we have to strongly consider if we continue gymnastics or not. He’s concerned that we have a 10 year old with a permenant fracture. He does not want him to have back pain as an adult and of course we just don’t know long term effects. My concern is it’s apparantly happened twice and afraid of it happening again. We are on 2 more months of rest (less constrictive this time though) and then a month of PT. We will then reevaluate with the doctor. My son is heartbroken. He misses gym and his friends. He’s feeling very lost right now and is not my happy boy at times. Bedtime is the worst when feelings generally come to the surface. I think it’s hard that we can’t try other sports right now either. He’s just stuck in limbo. Used to being so active and now nothing. He’s lost muscle and gaining weight around his mid section. My girls did at this age too and then thinned out. He’s a tall kid who has had several big growth spurts in the last couple years. I feel he’s grown again recently too. I’m going to try to plan more friends coming over since we don’t have neighborhood friends. And after regionals hopefully have his gym friends over. We go to visit gym and watch sometimes but he gets bored and it’s hard for him to not be participating. I also need to get him outside more often to do minor physical activity for fun. I just don’t know if he can or should go back to gym. And if no gym what other sports he could do or will be limited with. He has no other interests right now.

Sorry this was so long but thank you for reading my rambling. Just needed to get it out I guess. Last night was rough with him crying again and saying he feels left out all the time.
 
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John

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May 5, 2017
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Nothing to add but I am sorry. Time seems to heal most wounds, hopefully with time he will resume gym or move on to the next thing he loves.
 

profmom

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Nov 18, 2011
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I'm so sorry. This is a very hard place for a ten year old to be. What kind of orthopedist are you working with? If you don't have someone who handles sports stuff, you may want to get a second opinion about how to structure recovery; likewise with your PT practice.
 
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3crazymonkeys

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May 11, 2016
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USA
Nothing to add but I am sorry. Time seems to heal most wounds, hopefully with time he will resume gym or move on to the next thing he loves.
Thank you. I do need to remind myself that it’s barely been 2 weeks since the not so good check up. He needs time to adjust and never likes change.
 
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3crazymonkeys

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May 11, 2016
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I'm so sorry. This is a very hard place for a ten year old to be. What kind of orthopedist are you working with? If you don't have someone who handles sports stuff, you may want to get a second opinion about how to structure recovery; likewise with your PT practice.
Thank you. It’s a sports orthopedic who is very familiar with gymnasts and has worked with some of our high level teammates. He also works with the US ski team and professional baseball team. We also plan to get a PT that is familiar with and works with gymnasts. We will see what they say before deciding what to do about returning to gym or not. So hard to know what is best.
 
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skschlag

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Jul 19, 2011
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Ugh. So sorry. I really hope he recovers completely from this. this is quite the blow for such a young man. Keep us posted on how he is doing!
 
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Tmacs

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Feb 19, 2019
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I’m so sorry. Not fun at all. If he can’t return to gym, I’ll suggest sport climbing and bouldering. Great community, super competition and super sport for gymnasts to transition too and participate for life! It’ll be in the Olympics in 2020 and so getting into now would be fun. My son has loved it and it also gives him fun places to visit to boulder and climb. Top rope climbing would be better for back though.., bouldering can be hard on body with jumps down.
 

Midwestmommy

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Aug 22, 2013
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I’m sorry he is going through this. It is so hard to see your child frustrated, sad, and especially injured.

Gymnastics is something he does (or did), not who he is. As a parent, when my kids go through tough times, I try to share some of my tools for handling tough times at work, personal life. How he handles this time can be a big source of strength and pride when time passes and he looks back on it. Here are some of my tools:

Sense of humor and fun is key. Find a way to laugh and have fun. Make a new friend. Watch a funny movie. Plan a road trip you never had time for when he was busy at the gym.

Volunteer together/do something for others. At least for me, feeling needed and trying to make a difference is a sure way to feel great. Happiness is a decision, not a circumstance, but heck it’s a lot easier to make that decision when you give someone else the gift of a smile.

Learn something new—dust off that guitar in the corner.

Something a friend once taught me — she called it “Paint the door.” When things are tough, don’t let it be reflected in your physical environment—keep the paint fresh, frame that picture under the bed you’ve been meaning to hang up, etc.

Hey I’ll add one I heard at a concert last week from a 40ish musician trying to get out of a career slump and focusing on new plans instead of nostalgic looks back (he put it in a song): “say your prayers, get off your butt, and get to work.”
 
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Madden3

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Aug 24, 2013
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My son was out of the gym for several months last year due to a shoulder injury. He was 11 at the time. Also he is homeschooled, so gym practice is his daily "socialization." So while his injury was not nearly as severe as your son's, I have some idea of what you are going through.

Keeping my son as busy as possible with the stuff he could do helped the most. He was able to do way more with his Scout troop than otherwise, for example. He practiced piano more than usual and the improvement in his progress was obvious. And without daily gym practice he had many more opportunities to have play dates with old friends he otherwise rarely sees because they go to school.

My son is a big kid, and not getting enough excercise was definitely a concern, and he was used to getting all the excercise he needed at the gym. PT alone was not nearly enough. So I really had to push him to stay physically active, and being physically active- even just walking - also helped lift his mood.

I suggest try not worrying about the future, as there are simply too many unknowns. Thinking seriously about his future sports participation can wait. (Although, with all this extra time to fill, this may be a good time to start spectating other sports, to see if anything else captures his interest?) I am sorry you and your son are going through this, it can be very frustrating to patiently live in limbo!
 

Really

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Oct 4, 2015
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I'm so sorry to hear your kid is going through this. My DD was diagnosed with spondy in November, right after her first meet of the season. She was able to compete at states (luckily qualified that first meet) with SV deductions and watered down routines. She is mostly at full training except for front and back handsprings, which were hurting her back as recently as 3 weeks ago to try. What helped during her recovery period was encouraging her to play her band instrument and playdates/sleepovers with non-athlete friends. Luckily she has quite a few of those. Is it just a spondylolysis (fracture) or also a spondylolisthesis (slippage of the vertebrae)? My daughter had/has both, and she's still been cleared to do gymnastics with xrays every 6 months and PT (weekly at first, now down to every 2 weeks).
 
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