Disc protrusion in athletes

Disc protrusion occurs when the tough exterior of a disc in the spine ruptures, allowing the disc’s jellylike 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 and tear, 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.

Treating disc protrusion

Most athletes are relieved to learn that one of the commonly prescribed treatments for disc protrusion is exercise. An immediate return to the sport that caused the spinal damage may be postponed during the treatment period, however, 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 physician or physical therapist who can ensure you are able to participate in an exercise program without the threat of further injury.

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

  • The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Analgesics
  • Massage therapy

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

Laser Spine Institute treatment

If several weeks or months of noninvasive treatment have proven ineffective, a physician or spine specialist may recommend surgery. Laser Spine Institute offers effective alternatives to traditional open neck or back surgery. These minimally invasive procedures 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 choose traditional spine surgery.

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.

Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more and to schedule your initial consultation.