Neck pain in multisport athletes

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  • 1 Boulder Neurosurgical Associates; and
  • | 2 Department of Psychology and the Center for Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado
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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.

Spine - 1 year subscription bundle (Individuals Only)

USD  $376.00

JNS + Pediatrics + Spine - 1 year subscription bundle (Individuals Only)

USD  $612.00
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