Low back pain is the fifth most common reason for seeking medical care in the United States. It has been reported that a quarter of all adults in the US report having low back pain of at least one day in the past three months.
Back injuries in sports and physical activities varies greatly by sport. Athletes participating in gymnastics, diving, weight lifting, golf, American football, and rowing have shown higher rates of back pain. 90% of the injuries sustained by professional golfers involve the neck and back. The injury rate for back injuries in gymnastics is over 10% and back pain in American football lineman has been reported as high as 50%.
Back pain is a symptom that has many underlying causes including muscle strains, ligament sprains, and soft tissue contusions. Most low back pain is situational and muscle strain may be the most common cause of low back pain in college athletes. Sports that require repetitive extension of the spine (e.g. gymnastics, figure skating, diving, and football lineman) produce a group of injuries that are directly related to that movement and are a common cause of low back pain in adolescents.
Most episodes of low back pain will be short-lived and that 80% to 90% of attacks of low back pain resolve in about 6 weeks, no matter what the treatment approach. However, low back pain that is associated with numbness, tingling, radiating pain down the leg, or muscle weakness may be a sign of a ruptured or degenerating disc and should be seen by a care provider.