Talk to me about back problems...

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MaryA

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Jul 22, 2010
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DD, a 12-year-old level 8, has been having lower back pain. Apparently it started in July, very shortly after getting her boot off after a broken foot. She waited till mid-September to tell anybody. It only hurts when she extends her back, so essentially most tumbling. It doesn't hurt when she runs or when she sleeps or when she does bars (as long as she doesn't arch) or even vault. She says her pain is a "zero" most of the time but a 7 when she extends her back, with really nothing in between. She has been off all tumbling for two weeks now with little, if any, improvement in her pain. She went to a sports medicine doc on Friday and the Xray was clear. She has a bone scan scheduled for Wednesday, so hopefully we'll know more on Thursday after we meet with the doc for the results. I know that these kinds of issues are common in gymnasts, especially during the growth-spurt years. What sort of experiences have you had with this kind of thing... in yourself, your kids, your team? Not looking for medical advice but just words of wisdom from those of you who have "been there-done that." I'm guessing that a clear x-ray at least rules out the most serious of back injuries? This is so frustrating for everybody involved (DD, me, coaches) as she tries to get ready for the upcoming season and seems to be having one medical issue after another. :mad:
 
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GymBeeMom

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Jul 12, 2012
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My advise is to go slow and be positive in your gut that you have an accurate diagnosis. Give her all the time she needs to heal, whether it be a minor or major injury. And do not make a lasting decision for a temporary problem, take it all day by day. Keep us posted.

Back issues are scary and potentially serious. This does not mean to panic, only to be sure that you are confidant in each step before moving to the next one.

My fingers are crossed for you!
 

bogwoppit

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Get more than one diagnosis. My dd's back pain was misdiagnosed for years, they kept saying it was just muscle pain. Have dd stop doing the skills that hurt her until they know for sure what is going on. A bone scan is pretty good at seeing the small stuff. A 7 on the pain scale is quite painful.
 

vagymmomma

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Apr 26, 2010
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Definitely think about a second opinion just to be safe. Side observation - my DD is very close in age and level as yours. I have noticed that the small pains have just been coming a little more frequently this year and wonder if some of it is growing pains, more demanding skills or a change in awareness with pain (or all of the above). I guess I'm beginning to think that some pain is inevitably a part of the sport, but I do have some concerns about long term efforts. We've tried to be much more aggressive on the treatments the last few months (icing each night, pain relievers after practice if some pain, etc.). DD says that the coaches keep reinforcing the importance of conditioning to help alleviate some of these conditions, but there's just a lot of pounding in this sport. We had 2 level 9s with back injuries this last year that required long-term breaks from a lot of skills, so we're all watching it closely.
 

GymmomTrish

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If her doctor does not find any medical problems after the bone scan I would suggest that you consider chiropractice care or PT or both. My dd was having back pain during back handspring stepouts specifically and one adjustment from our chiropractor resolved it...we do periodically go back when issues crop up (pinching or other tweaks) and generally it only takes one or two visits to completely resolve her issue. For a more lasting issue that she was having with her hips being uneven which was leading to other pains and discomforts we took her to a wonderful PT who identified that her sacroiliac joint was shifted up which left one hip visibly higher than the other. That took about 4-6 weeks of weekly PT to resolve and get it to stay put, but was well worth it as she has been free of that issue for close to a year now.
 
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shelovestoflip

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Sep 29, 2010
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A few questions...
When you say she has a bone scan on Wed, do you mean MRI?
however I know that xrays don't always show everything so MRI much better at ruling out fracture.
Bog is right...7 is painful.
I agree with what others posted....don't let it go, get a second opinion and try to find a pediatric sports ortho....
 

MaryA

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Bone scan is different than an MRI.

And I'm thinking that DD's 7 may be like a "normal" person's 10. She (like most gymnasts, I suspect) has a very high pain threshold.
 

SignHere

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I'm thinking your doctor suspects a stress fracture in the vertebrae. A scan will show increased activity in the area of a fracture. He will then order a fine slice CT in the area of the increased activity to find the break.

Strict rest for a certain period of time, followed by PT should allow for a return to pain free gymnastics. Expect your DD to be out for at least 3 months . Good luck .

My DD has 2 more weeks of PT, and has no pain. She was misdiagnosed and her fracture progressed until she was painful all the time, even at rest.

Stress fractures in the spine are extremely common in gymnasts. Research spondylolysis.
 

bogwoppit

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I'm thinking your doctor suspects a stress fracture in the vertebrae. A scan will show increased activity in the area of a fracture. He will then order a fine slice CT in the area of the increased activity to find the break.

Strict rest for a certain period of time, followed by PT should allow for a return to pain free gymnastics. Expect your DD to be out for at least 3 months . Good luck .

My DD has 2 more weeks of PT, and has no pain. She was misdiagnosed and her fracture progressed until she was painful all the time, even at rest.

Stress fractures in the spine are extremely common in gymnasts. Research spondylolysis.
My dd's situation was just like that.

Best to deal with back pain right now before it becomes permanent. DD is still dealing with it years afterwards.
 

hawaii_gymnast

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No real advice other than I hope you get answers.
The only answer I ever got was it was muscular from multiple physios, chiropractors, doctors and sports docs. If it turns out to be muscular I would suggest getting IMS, if she is open to it. It is quite painful but was the only thing that helped me.
 

GymnastJoy

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Nov 5, 2010
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Not to hijack, but curious. For minor back aches and pains (or as in this post more painful), what should be done routinely after practice? Icing just the painful area or something else for the entire back?
 

bogwoppit

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Icing the area. But if back pains occur often after practice it should be looked at to rule out bigger issues.
 
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Dahlia

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I do not have back problems from gymnastics, but I had a lot of lower back pain as an adult. Went to a chiropractor and found that my pelvis was twisted. A couple of adjustments later the pain went away. I'd imagine in gymnastics it would be really easy to knock things out of alignment between all the moves and the falls, etc. Personally, if you have not seen a chiropractor and if the scans come up clean, I would go in for an eval. Personally, I believe frequent chiropractic care is a must for any athlete, especially for those in sports where falls and such are common.

I will add if the displacement has gone on for a while, muscles can be pulled/stretched out of proper placement and such and cause more pain. Sometimes PT is required to get the muscles back in proper working order as well.
 

Lizzy LaSelva

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Sep 28, 2013
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Back problems are a problem within themselves. I have 2 cracked vertebrate along with numerous off center joints etc. With back pain, it's all up to the gymnast. She knows when the pain is bad and when it's not. However, continuing on the pain can only lead to greater problems. The best thing to do is let the doctors do what they do best and in the meantime do what you can to minimize further damage! If it hurts during practice, I have found stretching/exercises to relieve pain. One that helped me tremendously is called the rock-n-roll, which is just rocking in a ball like position. Another would be to have her put her knees over her head (on her back) and touch them to the floor, which is an amazing extension stretch for the lower back muscles/joints. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope everything turns out good!
 

shelovestoflip

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Sep 29, 2010
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I'm thinking your doctor suspects a stress fracture in the vertebrae. A scan will show increased activity in the area of a fracture. He will then order a fine slice CT in the area of the increased activity to find the break.

Strict rest for a certain period of time, followed by PT should allow for a return to pain free gymnastics. Expect your DD to be out for at least 3 months . Good luck .

My DD has 2 more weeks of PT, and has no pain. She was misdiagnosed and her fracture progressed until she was painful all the time, even at rest.

Stress fractures in the spine are extremely common in gymnasts. Research spondylolysis.
My daughter had a fracture and an MRI gave the official diagnosis. They did a CT 4 months later to confirm it had healed.
I forget the reason but I do recall her pediatric ortho saying they don't do a CT initially. So I would question if your dr requests CT and not MRI. The MRI showed swelling around the fracture.

My daughter wore a brace for 4 months plust PT.
 

wispusa1

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Mar 6, 2009
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My daughter is recovering now from a back injury. We were luck and we caught it early. I took her to a pediatric sports ortho the day after she started having pain (hers was a 7 also). The xrays showed nothing and the ortho told me a regular xray wont show anything unless it has been there for awhile and if it shows up on an xray the chances of a full recovery are less. Thet did an MRI and she has a stress reaction which is swelling in the bone and happens right before a fracture occurs. The good news is that since it was caught early there is a 95% chance of a full recovery. The bad new is that she is out of the gym for 6 weeks and will have to do 6 weeks of physical therapy. She is pain free now and only has 10 more days until she can return to gym.
 

MaryA

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Jul 22, 2010
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My daughter is recovering now from a back injury. We were luck and we caught it early. I took her to a pediatric sports ortho the day after she started having pain (hers was a 7 also). The xrays showed nothing and the ortho told me a regular xray wont show anything unless it has been there for awhile and if it shows up on an xray the chances of a full recovery are less. Thet did an MRI and she has a stress reaction which is swelling in the bone and happens right before a fracture occurs. The good news is that since it was caught early there is a 95% chance of a full recovery. The bad new is that she is out of the gym for 6 weeks and will have to do 6 weeks of physical therapy. She is pain free now and only has 10 more days until she can return to gym.
How old is your daughter? The age "12" keeps showing up again and again as I read posts, pm's, and past CB threads on similar subjects. What level is she? So glad you're coming to the end of it! Was your daughter allowed in the gym to condition, etc. or just no gym at all? If my daughter has to be home for 6 weeks, heaven help us all. She'll be climbing the walls!
 

SignHere

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My DD was not allowed any physical activity other than walking. No gym class, no swimming, no conditioning, nothing ! For 6 weeks ! Then PT only.

It was extremely painful for everyone concerned, especially as it was over the summer.
 

iwannacoach

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Mar 25, 2012
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Hoping for good news. It could be muscular, which isn't a whole lot of fun but better than spondylolysis. Possibly her back muscles weakened during her time off, and when she started back those muscles were at square 1 while her ability to put pressure on them was at square 5.
 
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