Sport Specificity at a Young Age Increases Risk of Back Injury

Northwestern Medicine
Orthopaedics August 29, 2014
Young athletes today often participate in sports year round and with increasingly competitive club and school sports, it has become common to choose one sport to specialize at a young age. While this specialization may seem like a competitive edge, new Northwestern Medicine® research suggests that repetitive activity in just one sport, high impact or not, may not be a great idea for growing athletes.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital spine surgeon, Wellington Hsu, MD, recently conducted a study which suggests that young athletes, during the stages of skeletal maturity, should avoid continuous repetitive activity associated with low impact rotational sports, such as baseball, tennis and golf, to decrease their risk of a spinal injury known as a pars fracture. He discusses the research in the following video: 




The pars bone is part of a vertebra that joins the facets of the neighboring vertebra together.  This bone, which helps protect the spinal cord, is susceptible to injury during adolescent growth, which is a point of weakness in the spine. Adolescents who have not yet reached skeletal maturity have a higher rate of injury than adults.

“Rotational sports that put repeated stress on the pars bone can result in a stress fracture in the spine, which is known as a pars fracture,” said Hsu, who is the Clifford C. Raisbeck Distinguished Professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This condition is found in 6 percent of the world’s population, which equates to more than 430 million people worldwide with this injury.” 

Read the full press release. 

For more information on Northwestern Medicine spine surgery, visit the Center for Comprehensive Orthopaedic and Spine Care. To find a physician, call 312-926-0779. 

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