Effect of hyperconcavity of the lumbar vertebral endplates on the playing careers of professional american football linemen.
BACKGROUND: Hyperconcavity of the lumbar spine has been found in a disproportionate percentage of college football lineman evaluated at the National Football League (NFL) Combine compared with age-matched controls. HYPOTHESIS: College football linemen with hyperconcavity of the lumbar spine are more likely to play in the NFL and to have a longer career in professional football. STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. METHODS: Ninety three linemen from the 1992 and 1993 NFL Combines with hyperconcavity of the lumbar spine were compared with 191 linemen from the same combines without these changes in the lumbar spine. The percentage of athletes who played at least 1 game for an NFL team and the average length of career was calculated for both groups. In addition, the length of career for players with these changes was compared with those of matched controls based on other injuries and surgeries, year drafted, and round drafted. RESULTS: There was no difference in the likelihood of playing professional football between linemen with lumbar spine changes (54 of 93 [58%]) and those without (101 of 191 [53%]) (P = .41). There was no significant difference between the 2 groups in length of career in terms of years played, games played, or games started. CONCLUSION: Hyperconcavity of the lumbar spine does not appear to have any effect on the potential professional American football careers of college football linemen entering the NFL. Endplate changes on radiographs are not a significant screening tool for elite American football linemen. Further study of larger populations is needed to definitively answer whether these adaptive changes in the lumbar spine have any clinical relevance to these athletes.
Paxton, ES; Moorman, CT; Chehab, EL; Barnes, RP; Warren, RF; Brophy, RH
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