Athlete back pain

Low Back Pain in Athletes


Back pain is very common, it is the second most common medical complaint, second only to the common cold. The lifetime prevalence (change of getting it) of back pain is around 80%, with the 45-64 age bracket experiencing the highest prevalence.

Natural history of low back pain

Recovery periods vary from individual to individual, however, commonly:

  • 60% of people recovering in 1-3 weeks
  • 90% recovering in 6-8 weeks
  • 96% recovering in 12 weeks

More serious cases of lower back pain, for example cancer, are uncommon and occur within less than 1% of people.

Causes of low back pain

Mechanical conditions are responsible for 98% of back pain cases, including; spinal stenosis, disc herniation, back strain and sprains, osteoarthritis and disc disease (discogenic pain).

Treatment of low back pain

The first step of treating and managing low back pain is a consultation with a chiropractor and physiotherapist. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) our chiropractors and physiotherapists will initially take a physical examination and full history. For some patients, more tests such as an x-ray may be arranged, although not all. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis based on the information from the physical examination and the patient’s history, in collaboration with specific guidelines.

Most patients can start therapy with one of our chiropractors or physiotherapists without having had an x-ray, MRI or CT scan.


Getting physically fit and quitting smoking is the best way to prevent back pain, as obesity and smoking are associated with higher rates of low back pain. Back pain can be reduced with ergonomic intervention, physical activity and learning more about what prevents it.


Spine injury and back pain disorders are less likely to be experienced by those who regularly exercise.


Chris Knee

Chris is a chiropractor, sports chiropractor, McKenzie Credentialed practitioner, nutritionist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). Chris studied the Doctor of Physiotherapy program at Macquarie University from 2016-2019. He is now finishing his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree to become a medical doctor.