Aspetar’s Sports Spine Centre (SSC) is the result of nearly years of extensive research and consultation with renowned international experts and is among the first facilities in the world to offer a truly multi-dimensional, personalised management approach for athletes with spinal pain. Consistant with the most recent, evidence-based international guidelines, the SSC prioritises the use of conservative non-pharmacological rehabilitation.
The initial step of this approach involves screening for serious underlying pathology (e.g. infection or malignancy). In these rare cases, suitable onward referral will be indicated. Thereafter, the remaining 95% of patients are managed by determining which precise mix of possible contributing factors are linked to their pain, rather than simply seeking to treat the symptom of pain alone. There are two stages to this approach; first all athletes undergo a comprehensive, multi-dimensional evaluation of the factors which might contribute to their pain. This includes the usual examination of physical characteristics such as posture and muscle activatio, however our evaluation also encompasses a wide range of other factors known to be linked to spinal pain such as: cognitive (e.g. thoughts, beliefs), emotional (e.g. mood, fears), lifestyle (e.g. sleep, stress) and physiological (e.g. training load, strength, obesity) factors. Second, the specific contributing factors identified are then targeted with evidence-based treatment. This approach has been shown to be effective in international research in which the SSC have collaborated.
The SCC offers the following services to athletes:
- Comprehensive evaluation
- Precise, individualised treatment programme
- Education on management of training and conditioning
The core clinical staff at the SCC are physiotherapists with expertise in managing spinal pain. These experts can also coordinate care with a range of other departments at Aspetar that may include sports medicine doctors, physical medicine and pain management doctors, physical fitness coaches, sports scientists, psychologists, radiologists, nutritionists, and podiatrists.
Aspetar’s SSC has some key, consistent themes which we use to focus our treatments: though spinal pain is common and sometimes disabling, the spine is robust, and not a vulnerable, easily damaged structure; tests such as MRI scans can provide us with a better ability to view the spine, but there is evidence to suggest that imaging can be harmful if it leads to people inappropriately avoiding activity or viewing themselves as damaged; activity is generally safe and helpful for spinal pain; overall health is important; and pain is real, not in your head, and a better understanding of what pain is and how to help control it is valuable.
In the treatment of injuries, Aspetar believes that prevention and preparation are essential; something which is reflected in our screening programme, education of athletes, and research. By integrating cutting-edge research with daily clinical practice, both in the hospital and on the playing field, and providing outstanding care to athletes at all levels as part of our on-going mission to ‘assist athletes to achieve their maximum performance and full potential,’ Aspetar offers a complete solution in the field of sports medicine.