Back pain is common in athletes and different risk factors are known to aggravate it. This study was performed to assess the incidence of generalised ligament laxity in patients admitted with severe back pain. Prospective data was collected for patients admitted with severe back pain between Jan 2011 and March 2011 including demographic details, MRI scan findings and generalised ligament laxity. Clinical examination was used to assess the ligament laxity using the Beighton score. Laxity is scored on a 0–9 scale. Scores of 4 or above are indicative of generalised ligament laxity. There were 11 patients with a mean age of 46 years (range 33–63). There were 8 female (73%) and 3 (27%) male patients. The average Beighton score for these patients was 2 with a range from 0 to 8. 4 patients (36%) were involved in sporting activities. 6 patients (55%) had nerve root compression (Group A) on the MRI scan as compared to 5 patients (45%) with normal MRI scan (Group B). All patients who played sport were in Group A and had nerve root compression on the MRI scan. 2 patients (33%) in Group A, who played sport, had a Beighton score of 4 or more indicating generalised ligament laxity as compared to no patient in Group B. We found that there was a high incidence (33%) of generalised ligament laxity in patients who played sport and were admitted with severe back pain due to nerve root compression on MRI scan. Appropriate advice should be given to athletes about the risks of back pain and nerve root compression in later life.
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