Playing recreational softball with herniated disc leg pain

A herniated disc in the lumbar spine (lower back) can cause pain and symptoms that radiate into the leg and sometimes even the foot. Because a herniated disc often develops gradually with the aging of the spine, the symptoms may begin as minor and gradually increase over time. However, high-impact sports and activities can increase a person’s risk for developing this condition due to the constant bending, twisting and repetitive motions that may wear down a disc in the spine.

Often, the body movements required for softball — bending, twisting, running, sliding, jumping and sudden explosive movements — can contribute to spinal injury. In fact, one of the most common injuries for even recreational softball players is a herniated disc that results in leg pain.

Development of a herniated disc and leg pain

A herniated disc with leg pain develops when damaged disc material seeps into the spinal canal and irritates, or compresses, a nerve root that sends pain signals to the buttocks or leg. A herniated disc can develop from sudden strenuous movement, repetitive strain on the discs (as with swinging a softball bat or bending to field a ground ball), or as a natural result of the aging process.

When to seek treatment for a herniated disc and leg pain

If you begin to experience unexplained, lingering hamstring tightness or sharp pain that radiates through the buttocks and down the leg to the foot, here is a set of guidelines to follow:

  • Get a proper diagnosis and clearance from a doctor before participating in any strenuous physical activity.
  • Work with an athletic trainer to develop a pregame stretching routine geared toward your specific symptoms.
  • Stop playing if the pain suddenly becomes worse.
  • Apply ice to the affected area as soon as possible after the game.
  • Don’t overdo it — know your physical limitations and respect them.

Herniated disc leg pain usually fades over time, and the symptoms can be treated using stretching exercises, pain medication, behavior modification or rest. If chronic leg or back pain prevents you from pursuing your passion for softball even after weeks or months of conservative treatment, your physician may suggest surgery as an option.

In that case, consider the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute as an effective and safer alternative to traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery can remove the portion of the herniated disc that is pinching the nerve root to help alleviate your pain. Sometimes the entire herniated disc must be removed because it can no longer support the spine. When this happens, our surgeons perform a minimally invasive stabilization surgery and insert an artificial disc and/or bone grafts into the empty disc space to stabilize the spine.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure can help you find relief from herniated disc leg pain.