Nick’s Summit Story
Nick, a high school athlete and patient of Dr. Amy Beacom, shares how Summit helped him get back into the pool.
Nick: My name is Nick Topalof, and one thing that I love about swimming is the dedication that you need to have for it and the hard work that you put in and the feeling of success after a certain practice or meet. I began to feel some sort of pain in my lower back, and I just thought it was a muscle soreness. I didn’t think a lot about it, so I just kept swimming, kept doing everything else. And in the spring, I started lacrosse just to try new things. And it got really bad then. It still wasn’t, like, a sharp pain, but it was just a really dull, kind of constant pain around my lower back. We went and saw a doctor at a different orthopedic, and they told me to wear a brace for six weeks and just don’t do any activities. I was really skeptical about that. I didn’t know, you know, what I could or could not do. And so, my coach, Kate, she recommended that I go see Dr. Beacom.
Coach Kate: When Nick came to me with the injury, he wasn’t using his core like most swimmers. They don’t know how to use their core. It’s very difficult. And when it hurts your lower back, it affects every stroke you do, especially the ones he did, which was butterfly, freestyle, and backstroke.
Dr. Beacom: There’re certain injuries that are common in swim sports and swimmers. One of the things if you have back pain, you need to evaluate for a stress fracture. A stress fracture of the lumbar spine usually presents in this age group as achy low back pain. It’s typically worse when you’re arching back. It’s worse when they sit. Kids sit a lot during the day. I had a stress fracture in my back as a swimmer when I was a kid, and it hurt to sit. It was just constantly there. It was like a toothache you couldn’t get rid of. It’s a pretty unmistakable pain, and kids don’t get back pain. Like, they shouldn’t. So, if a kid has back pain, it warrants further evaluation, in my opinion.
Nick: When we went and saw Dr. Beacom, she showed us the MRI results, and she showed us the spot where it was, and she explained this fluid that was around it that caused this inflammation. And she just made sure that everything with us was OK. She told us that we were going to be okay, that this was going to go away. It just needed to take its time to rest and recover. She set me up with PT. I went there for many, many weeks, and they treated me so well. They were very nice, and they were very helpful. I found out that a lot of my muscles that I don’t even know I had or don’t even know I used play such a big role in every area of my life. And the one thing that I was shocked to find out was just how these smaller exercises totally changed my body position and my ability to do these things in and out of the water. If I didn’t meet Dr. Beacom, I would not be nearly as successful as I am now. And if I didn’t have her and her wisdom of everything that she knows and her patience and her reassurance, I would definitely not be anywhere close to where I am today. She’s just such a nice person. She’s always been there for me. And she’s always open for questions that I have.
Dr. Beacom: I try to be kind of a cheerleader for Nick and all my athletes. That’s why I make them come see me every month, because I think it’s more than just a diagnosis and a treatment plan and a recovery. I think it’s a let’s check in. Let’s make sure this is what you want, especially at that young age when they’re learning how to do this. And for Nick, I wanted him to have an awareness of his body and how he participates in that and how Nick gets better with it. So, I would say to Nick that he did A-plus work.
Coach Kate: After Nick saw Dr. Beacom, the one thing that I saw, he came back with hope. It changed Nick’s everything, because he finally had hope. He had a program. He had a physical therapist. He had steps that he could take in order to get to the place where he needed to be.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise
From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More resources for you
Jack Skendzel, M.D., one of Summit Orthopedics’ sports medicine experts, shares his best advice for avoiding stress fractures during the summer outdoor sports season.