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17 year old with lower back pain

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Hello-
I do not have any experience with back issues...My 17 year old son has history of soccer, basketball, and baseball since he was 5 years old. He plays rough! Last week of July he started having lower back pain during soccer camp. He is unsure what he did. He lives with his dad and he took him to a chiropractor who manipulated his back in to place and my son felt great afterward. He told him to take it easy-he did. About a week later he rejoined his soccer team for practice. He went to kick the ball and reinjured his back-only this time worse. He went to the chiro that day. The chiro guy said the muscle had "frozen" around the displacement of his back and he was unable to fix it that day. He was on ibuprofen and flexaril for about 2 days. Each day his dad took him to the chiro was to no avail...the same evening of visiting the chiro he began to slip on a step....he kind of jerked back to catch his balance and ta-da!! His back went back in to place. He still had some pain but was greatly relieved and could walk normally. He has been talking to me about rejoining the soccer team-it's his senior year of HS, however I am against it!!! Today he told me his back has started hurting again and last night he had some pain down his leg. His dad tells me that things like this take a long time to heal. I am worried. He will NOT be playing soccer this season that is for sure. I am wondering if he should be seen by a DO.??? I may mention here that the chiro did NOT do x-rays. I am also wondering what type of activity should he be doing?? Walking? I would appeciate it if someone could give me some advice on this. I am worried about him being so young with a back injury. Also, what does it mean when someone says their back is out of place??? I dont understand. Please advise me!!!

Thanks!! Gee
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replied September 2nd, 2008
Experienced User
Slipped vertebra or soft tissue damage?
In my experience with back injury, I've found that rest and alignment are crucial to feeling good after an initial injury. I believe that a healthy spine is crucial to feeling young and youthful. In yoga, they say that "you are as youthful as your spine is flexible" and I believe them! But, your son will need a clear diagnosis based on medical exams before he seeks treatment. Basically, a back-out-of-place can be either muscular or vertebral.

Your son will first need a spinal X-ray. One vertebra may be out of its normal alignment with the adjacent vertebra. The term spondylolisthesis means "spine slip". The typical appearance of spondylolisthesis is one vertebra slipping forward on the vertebra below. This is clearly seen on routine x-rays. X-rays of the spine are also helpful to assess whether the spine moves excessively and is unstable.

Second, an MRI scan is an excellent test to show the soft tissues of the spine. It's possible that a slipped muscle, tendon, or ligament is the cause of your son's pain. In this case, it might be that he chronically overuses some muscles in favor of other muscles. The trick will be to identify the weak areas and strengthen them, and to relax the muscles that are already strong.

After these two diagnostics, your son will be in a better position to treat his pain. Please let us know how it goes!
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Users who thank illustriously fickle for this post: GeeGee2 

replied September 3rd, 2008
Experienced User
slipped vert/soft tissue damage
Thank you for the info. I appreciate your reply! He has been resting it and doing some extra walking exercise. He has been doing better since I posted. I am going to get him in to see our family doctor who is a D.O. and proceed from there. I will keep you posted!
Again, thank you for your information and taking the time to reply.

~Gee
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replied September 4th, 2008
Supporter
I agree that soccer should be out of the question. I injured my knees in high school playing basketball --- one my junior year, the other my senior year. If I knew now what I knew then...I would NOT have risked the second injury, as I now have lifelong arthritis and pain in my right knee. I would have been hard, but not playing sports sounds like a good thing to me...or at least have your son do some serious weight training or physical therapy to prevent injury!
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replied September 5th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
Your son needs to be seen by a spine specialist and he needs to be seen ASAP.

He needs to have an MRI to evaluate what is going on with his spine. The fact that he developed pain going down his leg, indicates that there may be disc or nerve compression or both going on.

If I chiropractor has not done any kind of x-rays before doing any kind of manipulation, then he/she is a poor one to use. Doing anything like that without knowing the specific structure of the patient's spine and not doing an MRI as well, is a very risky thing to do.

If the vertebrae have slipped or a disc is herniated, manipulation by a chiropractor can and will make the situation far worse than it already is.

Your son should be doing absolutely no sports what so ever until he is properly evaluated by a doctor who specializes in spines only. Either an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in spines or a neurosurgeon that specializes in spines.

A DO after the doctor's name is not going to be able to help you or help you properly.

Your son is far too young to be playing risky games with a back injury by continuing to play sports, use chiropractors and seeing docs with a DO attached to their name.

Get him to a spine specialist right away, it should have been done when he first injured his back.

Fran
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replied September 5th, 2008
Muscle imbalances are the cause
From my experience with chiropractors they were able to put your son's back in place initially, but because certain muscles wern't strong enough to hold the corrected position, his back pain came back. When he slipped and caught himself he popped his back into place so he felt good temporarily. He didn't stay there because a muscle group didn't have the strength to maintain the position. So his back pain returned.

The "frozen" muscles that his chiropractor were referring to were simply the body's defense mechanism. Muscles tighten up as a means to protect the area from the harm that those weakend imbalanced muscles cause.

Essentially, what needs to be done for your son is to figure out what muscles are weak and strengthen them up and determine which muscles are tight so he can loosen them up.
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replied September 5th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
Gee,
Your son's back pain may have begun as a simple strain of lower back muscles, but it is not healing and keeps happening over again.

The fact that he has pain going down his leg, though you don't describe the kind of pain, leads me to believe that there is the possibility of a disc problem.

Before he starts doing anything with exercises of any kind with anyone, he needs to be properly diagnosed by a spinal surgeon. He needs an MRI done to determine if there is anything with the spine itself that is causing his pain.

If discs are involved, you run a big risk in causing further damage to his spine without proper diagnosis.

Please get your son to a spine surgeon for proper diagnosis right away.

Fran
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replied September 8th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
treating yourself or your son with self prescribed treatment without proper diagnosis from a spinal surgeon is a dangerous thing to do.

Without knowing the full extent of the spinal injury and what is going on, continued treatment without diagnosis, will no doubt cause further injury that may or may not result in the need for surgery.

Please get your son to a spinal surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Fran
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replied September 8th, 2008
Active User, very eHealthy
I "2nd" Fran's excellent words of advice.

RichT
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replied July 26th, 2010
ksss
if he wil play soccer make sure hes not wearing cleats the pressure goes into the lower back from the cleats
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