It was a painful collision felt by millions of people across the world on July 4 when Neymar Jr., a star Brazilian soccer player, was hit in the lower back by a Colombian player during the World Cup quarterfinal. Tears ran down his face as he instantly fell to the ground in obvious agony. It only took a second for viewers to realize that the pain on his face was more than the average soccer “flop.”
Paramedics quickly carried him off the field and into an ambulance that headed straight to the hospital. After a series of tests, it was determined that Neymar had fractured the L3 vertebra in his lower back and would be out for the rest of the World Cup.
How serious is a fractured vertebra?
The lumbar spine (or lower back) houses five vertebrae that support most of your body weight. The lumbar and thoracic region (or middle back) are the most common areas for spinal fractures, and those injuries are usually the result of high-velocity accidents, like the one we witnessed.
A fractured vertebra will usually heal on its own after being immobilized in a back brace. Surgery is only considered as a form of treatment in severe cases where the spine becomes unstable, or if a neurological problem develops, such as the inability to move both legs. Luckily for Neymar, his fracture isn’t considered severe.
When will we see Neymar back on the field?
Neymar is a very active and healthy young athlete. These factors will help him heal quickly, with a low probability of complications. In fact, we saw him at the third place play-off game against the Netherlands this past Saturday -- sans uniform, that is. He still has a lot of recovering to do, and will continue his treatment on August 5 in Barcelona. Odds are, we will definitely see Neymar competing at a high level again in no time, and we wish him a fast and healthy recovery!
If you suspect that you have a fractured vertebra or if your back pain is getting worse, contact Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute.