Canal stenosis causes include participation in sports

Participation in sports is a leading cause of spinal canal stenosis among athletes and younger people. Those who participate in contact sports like football, basketball, hockey, gymnastics or wrestling are particularly susceptible to developing spinal stenosis. This is due to the increased risk of spinal injury these activities can have. Non-contact sports that involve repetitive motion like baseball, tennis and golf can also lead to stenosis.

If you are an athlete looking to lessen your risk of developing canal stenosis and related conditions, it can be helpful to learn more about what stenosis is and how it develops. This information can help you better understand the recommended preventive measures and be more prepared for treatment if you do ever require it.

Overview of canal stenosis

The term stenosis means narrowing. In the spine, stenosis refers to a narrowed region of the spinal canal — canal stenosis — or the spaces located in between vertebrae — called foraminal stenosis. The narrowing is typically caused by displaced spinal anatomy due to conditions like a herniated disc or bone spurs. When these channels get smaller, it can put pressure on spinal nerves, resulting in painful symptoms and mobility problems.

While factors like aging, weight, genetics and even smoking can all contribute to spine conditions, athletic activity can accelerate spinal degeneration because of the amount of stress they place on the spine on a regular basis.

Preventing and treating sports-related stenosis

Safely participating in your sport of choice is the best preventive measure you can take. Always use proper technique, safety equipment and posture when engaging in sports. Make sure you are getting enough rest and recovery, have good nutrition and always stay hydrated. However, spinal injury and canal stenosis can still occur despite taking every precaution.

In many cases, conservative treatments are sufficient for relieving the symptoms of canal stenosis if they do occur. A doctor will usually recommend the following measures for athletes:

  • Rest and avoidance of sports-related causes of canal stenosis
  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
  • Massage
  • Alternating use of heating pads and ice packs
  • Physical therapy

An athlete should not return to play before regaining his or her pre-injury levels of wellness and strength and only with the clearance of a qualified medical professional. Surgery may become an option if conservative treatments are exhausted without improving symptoms enough to return to regular activity.

If surgery becomes an option

Contact Laser Spine Institute before consenting to traditional open neck or back surgery. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^

Our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants can help you get a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.