Lumbar Disc Herniation in the Adolescent Athlete
Participation in sports has been an important part of culture and childhood development. Injuries to the lumbar spine can preclude participation with devastating social, psychological, and physical consequences. The clinical presentation of adolescent lumbar disc herniations often differs from adult patients (less neurologic symptoms), frequently delaying the diagnosis. Lumbar disc herniations (LDHs) in adolescents have been treated surgically for almost 75 years. Of lumbar discectomy operations, adolescents account for between 0.5% and 4% of cases. Many factors contribute to lumbar disc herniations, including anthropometric, genetic, trauma, and variant anatomy. Ring apophyseal fractures (RAF) can be found in adults but are much more common in the skeletally immature patient. While clinical symptoms can be similar to a disc herniation, the treatment and prognosis for these can be different. Premature disc degeneration can also be found in the younger athlete. Nonsurgical treatment of a symptomatic adolescent disc herniation is often a reasonable option; however, many feel the outcomes are less favorable than for adult patients. When surgical treatment is pursued, returning to activities and sport is expected.
KeywordsAdolescent athlete disc herniation Pediatric lumbar disc herniation sports Adolescent athlete discectomy Adolescent athlete lumbar discectomy Athlete ring apophyseal fracture Adolescent athlete radiculopathy
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