Playing high-impact sports with disc protrusion

Disc protrusion occurs when the tough outer layer of a disc in the spine ruptures, allowing the disc’s gel-like interior to leak into the spinal canal. The discs in the spine act as tiny shock absorbers, allowing the surrounding vertebrae to pivot without impacting one another. Because the discs are responsible for cushioning the vertebrae, they often experience a great deal of wear, especially in the body of an athlete.

High-impact sports, such as gymnastics, hockey and football, can place excessive pressure on a disc, making the athlete susceptible to developing a disc protrusion or other degenerative disc conditions. Read on to learn about the conservative and surgical treatment options available to ease your symptoms and get you back to your active lifestyle.

Conservative disc protrusion treatments

Most athletes are relieved to learn that one of the commonly prescribed treatments for disc protrusion is exercise. However, an immediate return to the sport that caused the spinal damage may be postponed during the treatment period and most patients should stick to low-impact exercises that focus on stretching and strengthening the muscles in the neck and back. Before you begin an exercise treatment plan, you should consult a doctor or physical therapist who can ensure that you are able to participate in an exercise program without the threat of further injury.

A number of conservative treatments are often recommended in addition to low-impact exercise, including:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Heat massage
  • Physical therapy
  • Muscle relaxants

Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, the use of herbal supplements and chiropractic manipulation, may also provide relief to athletes with disc protrusion.

Minimally invasive disc protrusion surgery

If several weeks or months of noninvasive treatment have proven ineffective, a doctor or spine specialist may recommend for you to explore your surgical options. Laser Spine Institute offers safer and effective alternatives to traditional open neck or back surgery,^ in the form of minimally invasive spine surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your chronic neck or back pain.

Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are designed to treat all levels of disc protrusion and other degenerative disc conditions by removing the damaged part of the disc from the pinched nerve. Once the nerve is released, the symptoms of pain and discomfort should subside. The minimally invasive procedures at Laser Spine Institute are performed on an outpatient basis and cause very little muscle disruption, which means you can experience a shorter recovery time and fewer complications than patients who chose traditional spine surgery.^

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has helped more than 75,000 patients get back to the activities they love, such as competing in sports. To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a no-cost MRI review.*