Overuse, sport specialization leads to increasing lumbar injuries in young athletes
PHILADELPHIA — Year round participation in just one sport and overuse situations are causing a high number of stress fractures of the pars interarticularis in youth sports participants, a speaker at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting said.
“If you have a kid at the age of puberty just participating in one sport all year long, that is what we call specialization, and that is what we call a disservice,” Brian Hainline, MD, the NCAA Chief Medical Officer and Clinical Professor of Neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York, said. “It has become an obsession in our country. It has led to a wide range of overuse injuries, with the pars interarticularis stress fractures being the worst at this young age, aside from burnout, which means you stop playing sport altogether.”
Hainline said the literature on treatment for lumbar injuries in youth sport participants is varied. There is no compelling literature on the best way to treat these injuries, he said, but urged physicians to brace the athletes if they show any signs of these injuries.
“I’ll tell you personally as to what we’ve always done: we brace the kids. It is not because we think it is better, but because we think it is the only way to get the parents to lay off,” Hainline said. “That is really a problem. These kids are over specializing at such a young age and that is something that shouldn’t be happening.” – by Robert Linnehan
Hainline B. Session #C82. Presented at: American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting; April 26-May 3, 2014; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Hainline is a full-time employee of the NCAA and is a board member of several not-for-profit health/sport related organizations.