Many Teen Elite Tennis Players Have Spinal Abnormalities

Many have fractures, degenerated discs

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Most young elite tennis players with no symptoms of pain have abnormalities in their lower spine including fractures and degenerated discs, according to a report published online July 19 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

David Connell, from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, United Kingdom, and colleagues performed magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine in 33 asymptomatic elite tennis players aged 16 to 23 years.

The researchers found abnormalities in 28 (84.8 percent) of players. Nine had pars lesions such as fractures and stress reactions. Twenty-three had signs of early facet arthropathy with mild-to-moderate degeneration. Many joints showed sclerosis or hypertrophy or had synovial cysts. Thirteen players had disc desiccation or bulging, the authors note.

"Abnormalities were frequent, predominantly in the lower lumbar spine, almost exclusively at L4/5 and L5/S1 levels," Connell and colleagues conclude. "Pars injuries and facet joint arthroses were relatively common."

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