Lumbar Disk Herniation and Degenerative Disk Disease in the Athlete

  • Tyler J. Jenkins
  • Rick C. Sasso


The most frequent reason for missed playing time in competitive athletes is low back pain (LBP). Lumbar disk herniation (LDH), degenerative disk disease (DDD), and spondylolysis are the most common lumbar conditions that cause symptoms in this patient population. In elite athletes, most lumbar conditions can be managed nonsurgically with excellent outcomes. Surgical treatment is a viable option for athletes in whom nonsurgical treatment has failed. Many elite athletes are able to return to play even after surgical treatment, especially those who require lumbar diskectomy; high-level evidence has shown that they can return to play in 75–100% of cases. Lumbar fusion is not a contraindication for return to play in contact athletes. Return to play is assessed on an individual basis, but athletes should complete a rehabilitation program and demonstrate resolution of symptoms before medical clearance.


Lumbar Spine Athlete Herniation Stenosis Professional athletes Degenerative disk disease 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tyler J. Jenkins
    • 1
  • Rick C. Sasso
    • 2
  1. 1.Columbia Orthopaedic GroupColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Indiana Spine HospitalCarmelUSA

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