High-impact sports are a common cause of collapsed discs

A collapsed disc typically occurs in middle-aged people and those that are older as well. With age, spinal components, especially the joints and discs, become less able to absorb the shock of everyday movement. For the spinal discs this means they can start to lose height as water content and elasticity decrease. When a disc becomes flatter, it can cause many problems, from compressing surrounding nerves to encouraging the growth of bone spurs on adjacent vertebrae.

In addition to aging and other contributors like posture, genetics and weight, participating in sports can cause damage to the spine and lead to collapsed discs. Whether you’re an athlete looking to prevent disc collapse or you’ve been diagnosed with one and want treatment to get you back in action, educating yourself on this condition is a great first step for either of these goals.

Examples of sports-related pressures on the spine

Collapsed discs occur mainly from the amount of pressure that is put on the spine from upper body weight and normal movement. Sports can increase this load, both through the impacts that can occur from contact sports to the twisting that comes with repetitive motions like swinging a club or a bat.

Here are some representative high-impact sports that can lead to a collapsed disc due to the nature of the activity involved:

  • Gymnastics. Floor, beam and bar routines often call for the spine to be overextended, taxing the discs. Plus, landing dismounts and other maneuvers can be jarring to the spine and harmful to the outer walls of the discs.
  • Football. With every tackle or block on the field, players are potentially causing damage to their neck or back despite the protective equipment being worn.
  • Ice hockey. Hockey involves high-speed collisions between players and frequent impact with the boards lining the rink. As with tackles in football, these impacts can damage the discs, causing them to lose height, bulge or herniate.

When participating in these and other sports, the risk of developing a collapsed disc can be reduced by using proper form, protective equipment and getting the proper amount of recovery. Eating a healthy diet and having a high level of strength and conditioning can also help improve your spine health and prevent injury.

Getting help for your collapsed disc symptoms

Symptoms resulting from a collapsed disc can usually be treated through a course of conservative treatment options like medication, physical therapy and massage. Surgery can become an option if weeks or months go by without relief and a return to normal activity.

If you are considering surgery but have concerns about undergoing a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive spine surgery on an outpatient basis that offers many advantages compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.

Ask our caring and dedicated team for a no-cost MRI review* that can determine if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.