Impact of a degenerative spine on athletes

A degenerative spine can cause symptoms of pain, numbness, weakness, stiffness and limited mobility in the spine and in the associated extremity. While these symptoms can be troublesome for any person, they can be particularly negative for athletes who lead a very active lifestyle. This can include athletic trainers, kinesiologists, orthopedists and specialists in biomechanics, as they have an understanding of the vital role played by the body’s core when it comes to physical performance.

Core training generally is concerned with improving the strength of the torso, but it also benefits the flexibility of the spine. In fact, a healthy spine is the key to just about any physical activity you can name. This is especially true for athletic endeavors, such as golf, kayaking, distance running, tennis and other sports that many people hope to enjoy well into their golden years. Read on to learn about the impact that a degenerative spine has on the body as well as the treatments available for lasting relief.

What a degenerative spine condition does to the body

As the body ages, the components of the spine begin to wear down, which can cause a degenerative spine condition to develop. The general deterioration of the spine can occur in discs that lose height and can no longer support the range of spinal movement they once could. The facet joints become worn and the bones of adjacent vertebrae begin to rub together. Bone spurs also begin to form, further restricting the space available for nerve roots and the spinal cord.

While having a strong and healthy lifestyle benefits your spine, you may find that no matter how fit you are, the growth of a bone spur or the herniation of a disc can slow your active lifestyle. These degenerative conditions can compress a nearby nerve root and cause local and radiating pain in the arm and extremities.

For example, a golfer who has bone spurs in the cervical (neck) region of his or her spine may find that making the full turn necessary for a true and pure golf shot is not possible. If you are experiencing pain that is preventing you from doing the activities you enjoy, you should consult a doctor or spine specialist about different treatment options available to you.

What to do when a degenerative spine causes issues

If a degenerative spine condition is hindering your athleticism, take action and seek a treatment option to get you back in the game. Certain conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and core-strengthening exercises, can help lengthen your spine and reduce pressure from the pinched nerve root that is the source of your pain and discomfort. After several weeks or months of conservative treatment, you should be able to notice a reduction in your symptoms. If this is not the case, you should ask your doctor about spine surgery.

Surgical intervention for a degenerative spine

As an athlete, it’s important that you get back to your active lifestyle as soon as possible. That is why the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery with shorter recovery times and lower risks of complication.^ Our minimally invasive procedures have earned us a patient satisfaction score of 98 and a patient recommendation score of 98 out of 100.^ Contact us for more information about the advantages of our procedures.

The minimally invasive procedures we offer range from decompression surgery to stabilization surgery. During a decompression surgery, a small portion of the damaged bone or disc is removed to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve in the spine. A stabilization surgery requires that the entire disc or vertebra be removed and an artificial disc or bone graft be taken from the patient’s pelvis to be inserted into the empty space.

The use of an artificial disc or bone graft allows patients to experience more of a natural range of motion after surgery than the metal cage and rods used to fuse together the spine during traditional open back surgery. If you are interested in learning more about our outpatient procedures and finding out if you are a potential candidate for our degenerative spine surgery, reach out to us today and ask for a free MRI review.* Our dedicated team can help you get off the sidelines and back into the game you enjoy.