Return to play after lumbar spine conditions and surgeries

Clin Sports Med. 2004 Jul;23(3):367-79, viii. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2004.03.002.


Low back pain in athletes can result from a wide variety of conditions. A detailed history and physical examination supplemented by appropriate imaging studies can lead to an accurate diagnosis. The majority of cases will be self-limiting and resolve within 6 weeks regardless of treatment, but it is important to be able to identify conditions that require specific treatment. The decision of when an athlete can return to active competition is determined by the specific condition, associated symptoms, and treatment provided. Most athletes can return to full unrestricted play after sufficient resolution of pain and restoration of range of motion. Athletes undergoing spinal fusion are typically restricted from full-contact sports.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery*
  • Back Injuries / diagnosis
  • Back Injuries / physiopathology
  • Back Injuries / surgery*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Recovery of Function
  • Sports Medicine