Lumbosacral Spine Acute Bony Injuries Follow-up

Updated: Dec 11, 2018
  • Author: Federico C Vinas, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Return to Play

Most athletes who experience lumbosacral spine fractures are involved in violent sports or sports that require heavy physical activity or carry a significant risk for recurrence of the injury. Although the decision on when to return to play should be made on a case-by-case basis, many patients with minor spinal injuries, such as an isolated fracture of the transverse or spinous process, may be able to return to play after the injuries have healed (4-8 wk); however, patients who have vertebral body fractures may require a longer time for the fracture to heal. The time frame depends specifically on the characteristics of the fracture and the specific sport. In some cases, patients who require a major surgical intervention with a spinal fusion and instrumental fixation may not able to return to participate in that specific sport.

Related Medscape Reference topics:

Degenerative Lumbar Disc Disease in the Mature Athlete

Lumbar Disk Problems in the Athlete

Related Medscape resources:

Resource Center Exercise and Sports Medicine

Resource Center Spinal Disorders

Specialty Site Orthopaedics



The prognosis of a patient who sustained a sport-related acute fracture of the lumbar spine depends on numerous factors, including the characteristics of the fracture, severity of the associated neurologic deficits, associated injuries, and the patient's compliance after the discharge. [51, 52] For example, patients who routinely smoke cigarettes have delayed bone healing and a higher risk of developing a pseudoarthrosis. Other patients may injure themselves in their eagerness to return promptly to physical activity or contact sports.