How a degenerative spine causes problems for athletes

A degenerative spine can cause symptoms of pain, 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.

Athletic trainers, kinesiologists, orthopedists and specialists in biomechanics understand 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.

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 wear and tear of the spine can occur in discs that lose height and no longer can support the range of spinal movement they once could. The facet joints become frayed and the bones of adjacent vertebrae begin to rub together. Bone spurs (osteophytes) begin to form, further restricting the space available for nerve roots and the spinal cord.

While having a strong, 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 physician 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 hampering your athleticism, take action and seek a treatment option to get you back in the game. Certain conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and yoga, can help lengthen your spine and reduce pressure from the pinched nerve root that is the source of your pain and discomfort.

After several months of conservative treatment, you should be able to notice a reduction in your pain and symptoms. If this is not the case, you should ask your physician about spine surgery.

As an athlete, it’s important that you get back to your active lifestyle as soon as possible. That is why our minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative with shorter recovery times* than traditional open neck and back surgery. Our patients experience lower risk and higher patient satisfaction scores when compared to traditional open spine surgery.

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 and/or bone graft taken from the patient’s pelvis to be inserted into the empty space. The use of an artificial disc and 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.

For more information about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our spine care experts can help you get off the sidelines and back into the game you enjoy.