Neck pain in multisport athletes

Restricted access

Object

The sport of triathlon is very physically demanding and has experienced rapid growth in recent years. The number of triathletes seen for spine disorders at neurosurgery clinics is increasing. Neck pain and overuse injuries have not been adequately studied in multisport athletes. The authors undertook an epidemiological study to establish the lifetime incidence of neck pain and the prevalence of possible discogenic pain, and to identify risk factors among triathletes in the Boulder, Colorado area.

Methods

An online questionnaire was developed to collect information about physical characteristics, training habits, athletic status, number of races completed, and neck pain among triathletes. The incidence of possible cervical discogenic pain was defined according to the duration of symptoms for the most recent pain episode.

Results

One hundred and sixty-four athletes responded to the questionnaire. The lifetime incidence of neck pain was 47.6% (78 athletes), with 15.4% possibly being of discogenic origin based on the duration of symptoms. Approximately 64% of responding athletes reported that their neck pain was sports related. Although the number of previous triathlons was not predictive of neck pain, total years in the sport (p = 0.029) and number of previous sports-related injuries (p < 0.0001) were.

Conclusions

Two major risk factors for long-term spinal problems in triathletes are sports-related injuries and overuse. This report is one of the first comprehensive studies of neck pain and overuse injury in multisport athletes.

Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Alan T. Villavicencio, M.D., Boulder Neurosurgical Associates,1155 Alpine Avenue, Suite 320, Boulder, Colorado 80304. email: atv@bnasurg.com.
Headings
References
  • 1

    Asplund CWebb CBarkdull T: Neck and back pain in bicycling. Curr Sports Med Rep 4:2712742005

  • 2

    Brennan GPFritz JMHunter SJThackeray ADelitto AErhard RE: Identifying subgroups of patients with acute/subacute “non-specific” low back pain: results of a randomized clinical trial. Spine 31:6236312006

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3

    Burns JKeenan AMRedmond AC: Factors associated with triathlon-related overuse injuries. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 33:1771842003

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4

    Cipriani DJSwartz JDHodgson CM: Triathlon and the multi-sport athlete. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 27:42501998

  • 5

    Collins KWagner MPeterson KStorey M: Overuse injuries in triathletes. A study of the 1986 Seafair Triathlon. Am J Sports Med 17:6756801989

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6

    Côté PCassidy JDCarroll L: The factors associated with neck pain and its related disability in the Saskatchewan population. Spine 25:110911172000

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7

    Croft PRLewis MPapageorgiou ACThomas EJayson MIMacfarlane GJ: Risk factors for neck pain: a longitudinal study in the general population. Pain 93:3173252001

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8

    Egermann MBrocai DLill CASchmitt H: Analysis of injuries in long-distance triathletes. Int J Sports Med 24:2712762003

  • 9

    Harvey JTanner S: Low back pain in young athletes. A practical approach. Sports Med 12:3944061991

  • 10

    Hill JLewis MPapageorgiou ACDziedzic KCroft P: Predicting persistent neck pain: a 1-year follow-up of a population cohort. Spine 29:164816542004

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11

    Korkia PKTunstall-Pedoe DSMaffulli N: An epidemiological investigation of training and injury patterns in British triathletes. Br J Sports Med 28:1911961994

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12

    Levy CMKolin EBerson BL: Cross training: risk or benefit? An evaluation of injuries in four athlete populations. Sports Med 3:181986

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13

    Levy CMKolin EBerson BL: The effect of cross training on injury incidence, duration and severity (part 2). Sports Med Clin 3:181986

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14

    Majowicz SEEdge VLFlint JSockett PDoré KMcDougall L: An introductory letter in advance of a telephone survey may increase response rate. Can Commun Dis Rep 30:1211232004

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15

    Manninen JSKallinen M: Low back pain and other overuse injuries in a group of Japanese triathletes. Br J Sports Med 30:1341391996

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16

    Mooney V: The classification of low back pain. Ann Med 21:3213251989

  • 17

    Nápoles-Springer AMFongwa MNStewart ALGildengorin GPérez-Stable EJ: The effectiveness of an advance notice letter on the recruitment of African Americans and Whites for a mailed patient satisfaction survey. J Aging Health 16:5 Suppl124S136S2004

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18

    Nelson BWCarpenter DMDreisinger TEMitchell MKelly CEWegner JA: Can spinal surgery be prevented by aggressive strengthening exercises? A prospective study of cervical and lumbar patients. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 80:20251999

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19

    O'Toole MLHiller WDSmith RASisk TD: Overuse injuries in ultraendurance triathletes. Am J Sports Med 17:5145181989

  • 20

    Rosenthal RRosnow RLThe volunteer subject. Rosenthal RRosnow RL: Artifact in Behavioral Research New YorkAcademic Press1969. 59118

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21

    Stinson JT: Spine problems in the athlete. Md Med J 45:6556581996

  • 22

    Villavicencio ATBurneikiene SHernández TDThramann J: Back and neck pain in triathletes. Neurosurg Focus 21:4E72006

  • 23

    Weiss BD: Nontraumatic injuries in amateur long distance bicyclists. Am J Sports Med 13:1871921985

  • 24

    Wilber CAHolland GJMadison RELoy SF: An epidemiological analysis of overuse injuries among recreational cyclists. Int J Sports Med 16:2012061995

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25

    Wilk BRFisher KLRangelli D: The incidence of musculoskeletal injuries in an amateur triathlete racing club. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 22:1081121995

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26

    Young JLPress JMHerring SA: The disc at risk in athletes: perspectives on operative and nonoperative care. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29:7 SupplS222S2321997

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
TrendMD
Cited By
Metrics

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 526 461 74
Full Text Views 83 28 1
PDF Downloads 44 15 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0
PubMed
Google Scholar