Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Our daughter injured her spine while playing soccer. She thought it happened when she kicked the ball especially hard one time. It seems like that would cause a leg injury, not a back problem. Can you explain this?

Soccer has become a much more popular sport in the last 10 to 15 years. Along with increased sports participation comes an increase in the number of injuries. Knee and ankle injuries top the list for soccer players but about 10 percent report back pain as well.

Doctors at three medical colleges and children's hospitals studied this problem. From their results they suggest that kicking causes problems for several reasons. First, it is a repetitive action done over and over causing stress over time to the soft tissues. So even though your daughter pinpoints her injury to one kick, it's likely the result of repeated actions.

Second the position of the ball can make a difference. If the ball is behind the person's central body axis, then the hip and low back go into hyperextension to kick. The follow through as the leg comes forward causes the spine to go into flexion. It could be this flexion-extension movement during a high-velocity kick results in injuries.

Georges El Rassi, MD, et al. Lumbar Spondylolysis in Pediatric and Adolescent Soccer Players. In The Journal of Sports Medicine. November 2005. Vol. 33. No. 11. Pp. 1688-1693.

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