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Why are back pain guidelines left on the sidelines? Three myths appear to be guiding management of back pain in sport
  1. Ben Darlow1,
  2. Peter B O'Sullivan2
  1. 1 Primary Health Care and General Practice, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2 Department of Physiotherapy, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ben Darlow, Primary Health Care and General Practice, 23 Mein Street Newtown, Wellington 6021, New Zealand; ben.darlow{at}

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Southee was diagnosed with an irritated disc in his back, after scans.1 Lower back tightness prompted shortstop Ian Desmond to have a shortened night Tuesday… “I just figured it would probably be smart just to get out of there and not create any further damage.”2 The harder Shawcross pushed himself in pre-season the more discomfort he found himself in, leaving no alternative but for him to undergo the operation.3

These media reports highlight the problem of back pain in sport. From the reports it would appear that athletes' back symptoms are serious and linked to structural damage. Athletes appear to be managed with rest or limiting training and competition, early referral for advanced imaging that often leads to invasive treatments and a requirement that symptoms settle before full sporting participation can resume. Such an approach to management contradicts current guidelines for back pain.4

Back pain in sport: athletes neglected or athletes different?

Given the discrepancy between the management of back pain in athletes and the …

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  • Contributors BD and PPBO'S conceptualised, developed and revised this manuscript together.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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