WAG Lower back pain and a freaking-out gymnast

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StringBean'sMom

Proud Parent
Mar 22, 2013
96
My girl has had mild lower back pain off and on for a few weeks...initially thought it was muscular, based on where she pointed to the site of pain. But, thanks to my reading here on CB, my mommy-radar peaked when she mentioned that it only really hurts with back walkovers and bridges. She's competing Level 5 this year and has been working the BWO on beam pretty obsessively.:confused: So, we had our first appointment with Children's hospital Sports Medicine today - got lucky and her doc is a former gymnast who's career ended due to spondy that wasn't address early enough, so I know we have someone who understands the gymnast psyche and knows the risks of not getting this handled right!

X-ray was clear, but she has an MRI scheduled for Thursday. She said that if that is clear and she is still suspicious, she'll move on to a bone scan. (she tries MRI first to limit radiation exposure in young kids) For now, her practice is limited to stretching and splits and bars if it doesn't hurt (she says it doesn't and thankfully its her favorite event!). The doc did mention the possibility of 8-12 weeks of complete rest if there are stress fractures and my girl is already freaking out about that possibility.

She has a score-out meet in 3 weeks for Level 4 and then her Level 5 season starts at the end of December through April. So, even with 12 weeks of rest, she probably could still manage to get some competing at the end of the season, but she's still already worrying about lost skills, being a year behind if she doesn't compete at all, "OMG I might have to compete a BHS instead of BWO on beam and I can't do a BHS on beam yet!!" etc, etc. She's an over-thinker to start with so she is already worrying about every possible possibility...and we don't even have a definitive diagnosis of spondy yet!!

So, aside from the fact that I don't want my kid to have such a serious injury, I'm also not relishing the thought of dealing with her going stir-crazy with that long of a break from gym! Thankfully they got the MRI scheduled quickly, so we hopefully can get past the "what if" stage pretty quickly.

Fingers crossed and we will gladly take any advice and/or prayers that you've got!!;)
 

IreneKa

Proud Parent
Fan
Mar 18, 2013
1,684
So sorry you are going through this. We just went through the same thing over the summer. DD was in a back brace for 12 weeks. She was still able to practice some gymnastics though. She was able to do bars, most of the beam, and some floor, so she didn't fall too far behind.
You can PM me if you have any questions. Good luck on Thursday!
 
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my4buffaloes

Proud Parent
Apr 14, 2010
5,288
Midwest
Sorry for the bad news, hopefully the MRI will clear things up. My dd is on week 8 of rest and it has been rough. But she understands it is necessary, so that helps.
 

Gymettemom

Proud Parent
Sep 2, 2013
86
46
I am right there with you. DD is resting now and awaiting the decision wether or not to do the bone scan. . Part of me just wants to do it NOW and get the wondering over with.
So scary and frustrating.
 

mpkbt

Proud Parent
Jul 17, 2007
243
Region 1
Here is a good news side...About the same age my dd was having back issues similar to yours. In her case, after x-rays and MRI they just realized that she has VERY strong muscles in her lower back and that if she didn't stretch very well she would tweak them pretty easily. She has to think about it every year about this time because for whatever reason it is the time it effects her the most. We have pondered that it is when the stress and pressure ramps up for season but really not sure. Now when she feels it she takes Motrin every 4 hours for 3 days backs off anything that makes it hurt and stretches. The doc said a strain in your back is hard to heal because you never stop using your back even when you sleep. The reason for Motrin every 4 hours is to allow the swelling to stay down long enough to heal. Hope that it is a similar situation for your daughter!
 

kandkfunk

Proud Parent
Aug 7, 2012
431
Here is a good news side...About the same age my dd was having back issues similar to yours. In her case, after x-rays and MRI they just realized that she has VERY strong muscles in her lower back and that if she didn't stretch very well she would tweak them pretty easily. She has to think about it every year about this time because for whatever reason it is the time it effects her the most. We have pondered that it is when the stress and pressure ramps up for season but really not sure. Now when she feels it she takes Motrin every 4 hours for 3 days backs off anything that makes it hurt and stretches. The doc said a strain in your back is hard to heal because you never stop using your back even when you sleep. The reason for Motrin every 4 hours is to allow the swelling to stay down long enough to heal. Hope that it is a similar situation for your daughter!

My DD is in a very similar place. Very tight muscles in the back resulting in misalignment and pain. All made worse by too much back/front walkover work and repeated pounding with ankle weights. My DD dealt with the pain for almost 2 years, including multiple Doctor visits, x-rays, PT and chiro. Chiro is really the only thing that helps her, but the pain eventually comes back. The pain was one of many factors that pushed her into quitting after level 8. You are on the right path in taking this seriously and pushing for answers and it sounds like you are in very good hands. That is half the battle. Good luck!
 

StringBean'sMom

Proud Parent
Mar 22, 2013
96
Thanks everyone! It's good to hear there might be some possibilities that are a muscular instead of bony injury.

I think once my girl realizes that even though 8-12 weeks out won't be fun, it's better that never being in the gym again. Plus, if she can still do bars and keep up her strength, hopefully it won't be like completely "starting over" like she fears. Plus, she has a friend who is out with a broken ankle right now, so they can commiserate and condition together and then work on their comeback together!

I also told her that ultimately she will probably be limiting (or eliminating) BWO work whoever she is cleared back to practice so her goal may likely be just to get through Level 5 in one piece and make it to 6 where she isn't bound by compulsory choreography. It might be a short competition season and it might not be her strongest season in scores but if she manages to have a healthy and functional back that can still do gymnastics, then it'll be a success.

I'm just so glad we managed to score a doctor who was a gymnast...at least she gets how deeply these girls live and breathe their sport!
 
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still hanging

Proud Parent
Mar 15, 2014
38
BWO are the worst!! If you can find another skill do it or limit the amount she will do every practice when she returns.

What a great doctor to have! My DD was out for 4 months. It takes time to rebuild strength, however the skills came back a little faster than I thought. Best wishes!
 

bookworm

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Thanks everyone! It's good to hear there might be some possibilities that are a muscular instead of bony injury.

I think once my girl realizes that even though 8-12 weeks out won't be fun, it's better that never being in the gym again. Plus, if she can still do bars and keep up her strength, hopefully it won't be like completely "starting over" like she fears. Plus, she has a friend who is out with a broken ankle right now, so they can commiserate and condition together and then work on their comeback together!

!

My daughter (at L10) had a very similar presentation, had the Xrays, MRI and finally bone scan that showed stress fractures in her back in the T10 area...and she was in a hard back brace (24/7, off only to shower) for 12 weeks and no gym events AT ALL during that time....so I don't think if your DD has a stress fracture that bars will be allowed...my daughter was only allowed to stretch and condition ...she came back at the very end of the season to do States, Regionals and Nationals and did well so don't think that 12 weeks out is a deal breaker for her Level 4 or 5 career...it will be a deal breaker if she doesn't take the time needed to heal it and it never gets better......
 

bogwoppit

Gold Membership
Feb 26, 2007
16,885
As you all know we went through this with my oldest DD. After a year long wait youngest finally had an MRI for her lower back pain, who knows what that will bring. But she has been unable to participate in sports for two years whilst we looked in pot the issue.

To the OP hope the results are on the positive side, lots of things can cause pain. Hope it is something simple,
 

StringBean'sMom

Proud Parent
Mar 22, 2013
96
Already had to stop her from doing handstands and cartwheels down the hallway tonight - It could be a loooong rest period!. It's so unconscious for her to do these things whenever the sprit moves her and it's hard to remember not to do it when those particular moves don't cause any pain.

But she seems to be slowly grasping the idea that a little frustration and inconvenience now is worth it to not end her gym "career". And Momma will definitely make sure she follows her restrictions to the letter...I'm a veterinarian and I see first hand all the time how much patient non-compliance can interfere with a good recovery. I'll put her in a cone of shame and on cage rest if I need too, lol!
 

StringBean'sMom

Proud Parent
Mar 22, 2013
96
Update! The MRI was completely normal! The doctor cautioned that this doesn't 100% rule out sponylolysis, but was so normal that we are starting with rest and physical therapy first with a follow up in 4 weeks. If she hasn't improved enough in that time, then she will order the SPECT bone scan.

Plus, the physical therapist is also a former gymnast. I'm just feeling so lucky that we managed to land a doctor and a PT with gymnastic backgrounds - they should have a great handle on getting her safely back to the gym, and preventing future problems in and out of the gym!

She's done surprisingly well limiting herself this week - better than I expected! She's allowed dance moves, limited beam and most of her bars. I have her best friend on "Spy assignment" for me - when I got there to pick her up after practice, I got a report on whether she followed her restrictions properly. Getting the scoop without sitting through practice...good deal!
 
D

Deleted member 14190

The single greatest change in new compulsory requirements was the addition of the BHS in level 5 on beam.
 
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StringBean'sMom

Proud Parent
Mar 22, 2013
96
The single greatest change in new compulsory requirements was the addition of the BHS in level 5 on beam.
I'm hoping they start working that a bit more seriously for her once she's back up to full form. She needs to wrap her head around it first - I mentioned that she may want to talk to her coaches about it eventually and her eyes got huge (A bit "deer in headlights" really). I don't know that she's quite mentally prepared to plan on having that skill "compete-able" for this season, but (with the little that I know!) it sounds like an option she should take very seriously!
 

ProudMomofGymnast

New Member
Aug 10, 2010
40
Region 7
Been there done this... daughter had a stress fracture in her L5, and X-rays, Bone Scan and MRI did not show it. Only the Cat Scan did. 11 weeks in Hard back brace with no gymnastics and lots of PT. She was in the process of finishing Level 5 and making the jump to Level 7. This is something that needs be taken very seriously.
 
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SignHere

Proud Parent
Jul 11, 2011
518
my DD had stress fractures in lumbar spine. 12 weeks of NO gym time! Nothing except walking! I don't know who suffered more, her, or me...
Then another 6 weeks of PT. But we both survived, and she got back in the gym.
 

StringBean'sMom

Proud Parent
Mar 22, 2013
96
So, she had her first PT session today - her therapist is a former gymnast and current coach (at a local gym with an excellent reputation) thankfully! After a bunch of physical evaluation on her back, legs, hips etc, she had my girl do her bridge and said, "Wow! I should have had you do that first and I would have had my answer right away!" LOL! Apparently her upper back and shoulders are very very inflexible so it forces her to arch her lower back too much. Plus her hip flexors could be stronger to give more stability to the lower back. (All details I was already suspicious of thanks to my research here on CB :) )

She has a number of exercises to do at home several times a day and will have sessions with the PT twice a week. In the meantime, she is able to attend practices with restrictions: no tumbling or table vaulting, no BWO/bridges/arching. Beam and bars, along with dance/leaps on floor are OK as long as it doesn't hurt when she does it. With the past week of rest from arching and BWO, she hasn't had any pain whatsoever and when she did bridge for the PT she said it only hurt a little...encouraging signs!

I know we aren't completely clear yet....if she isn't normal enough at her recheck in 3-4 weeks, we will move ahead with the bone scan and/or CT. But, so far so good - fingers crossed!
 

StringBean'sMom

Proud Parent
Mar 22, 2013
96
Quick update! PT has been going very well - she is quickly feeling results and has a much more comfortable back. They let her do some very limited tumbling this week so she could still participate in her level 4 score out meet this weekend. During practice this week, she was able to do a couple of everything respectably AND, more importantly, pain free!

She competed yesterday and got her mobility score, managing a 2nd all-around and 2nd place on bars, beam and floor! (Not bad considering she hadn't tumbled in 3 weeks and had only done 5 vaults this week prior to the meet! My only hope for her was to meet her score and not hurt herself. Yep, Momma's a little proud- lol!)

Back to PT tomorrow - I suspect she will go back to limited to minimal tumbling now that she's through that meet. Recheck with the doctor is at the end of the month, but things are looking up! :)
 
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