Older individuals today are participating in athletic activities in greater and greater numbers, whether it is weekend sports enthusiasts or highly competitive senior athletes. Degeneration of the lumbar disc, associated degenerative facet arthritis, and spinal stenosis are the most common causes of low back and leg pain in the aging population, and the mature athlete is not immune from these processes.
The images below depict degenerative lumbar disc disease:
Degenerative lumbar disc disease in the mature athlete. Degenerative changes of the lumbar spine, including decreased signal intensity and disc bulging at the L-3/4, L-4/5 and L-5/S-1 discs.
Degenerative lumbar disc disease in the mature athlete. The process of disc degeneration following internal disc disruption and herniation.
Degenerative lumbar disc disease in the mature athlete. The various forces placed upon the discs of the lumbarspine that can result in degenerative changes.
Many mature athletes (typically aged 30 years or older) present with complaints of low back pain (LBP), radicular symptoms, neurogenic claudication, or a combination of all of these symptoms. These clinical syndromes in the mature athlete should be fully evaluated, accurately diagnosed, and appropriately treated to allow for return to athletic participation.