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December 4, 2021

Lower Back Pain in Youth Athletes: A La Jolla Chiropractic Case Study

Lower Back Pain in Youth Athletes: A La Jolla Chiropractic Case Study

Many youth athletes come to our chiropractic office in La Jolla needing treatment for lower back pain. Here we present a case study examining a back injury in a young female softball player.

The Patient

A 12-year-old female softball player visited our office about five weeks ago after injuring her lower back while diving for a base during a softball game. Despite her pain, the patient continued playing softball, which wasn’t going away and intensified whenever she swung the bat.

Her injury had occurred about a month prior to her visit with us. She had already seen her pediatrician, who sent her for X-rays and an MRI. Our young patient and her mother had the MRI report in hand when they visited our La Jolla clinic but did not know what they revealed because the images had not yet been interpreted by their doctor.

The Assessment

We review a lot of injuries captured by MRI, which usually look far worse than they really are. Based on the MRI report, we suspected that our young patient had suffered a stress fracture of the L5 vertebrae at the bottom of her lower back, also known as a bilateral L5 pars interarticularis defect.

This injury is highly common among youth athletes, especially in cheerleaders, gymnasts, and softball players. It usually occurs due to the overextension of the lower back but is completely preventable. Our assessment was supported by the radiology report attached to the MRI.


Before starting the patient on a chiropractic treatment plan, we suggested that she and her mother consult with their pediatrician to confirm the injury. Any chiropractic adjustments we would have made to her lower back without confirming the diagnosis may have delayed healing and increased the intensity of her pain.

After our patient’s pediatrician confirmed the diagnosis, we recommended that she take a six-week break from softball and other activities, including running. She received chiropractic care at our La Jolla office once a week and also worked with her physical therapist once a week.

Our chiropractic approach for this patient included corrective exercises and manual therapies on the lower back, including Active Release Technique (ART), cupping, and laser therapy. We also performed adjustments for her hips and thoracic spine in the middle back.

The Result

When the patient first began working with us, she had rated her pain an 8 out of 10 on the pain scale. At the four-week mark, she was happy to report she had experienced zero pain after leaving her third appointment with us. Her lower back is continuing to improve, and she will be meeting with her pediatrician again in two weeks for a re-evaluation with hopes of being cleared to progress her rehabilitation and resume some athletic activities. Full return to sport may require an additional six weeks.

Our team at Team Elite Chiropractic is composed of highly skilled chiropractors with CCSP certification. If you are looking for an experienced sports chiropractor, contact us today at 858-633-8036 or visit our website to book an appointment online.

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