Causes of facet syndrome — participation in sports can be a factor

There are many causes of facet syndrome, with probably the largest underlying cause being the natural aging process. Over time, the facet joints that link the spinal vertebrae gradually deteriorate after years of wear. However, there are other factors that can contribute to this condition, including weight, posture and sports-related injury.

While participating in certain sports does add to the pressure being placed on the spine and can potentially speed up the development of facet syndrome, it is still important to remember the benefits of physical activity. A strong body, especially the core muscles, can help to take pressure off of the spine, while good cardiovascular health means that more nutrient-rich blood is able to reach the joints and discs. For those who do participate in high-contact sports, having a better understanding of their relationship to facet syndrome can help in the prevention and treatment of this condition.

How sports put pressure on the spine

The high impacts and repetitive motions involved with many sports add to the stress being placed on the joints. Years of hits, falls and twisting can take their toll on joints and other anatomy of the spine, potentially causing an earlier onset of facet syndrome for certain athletes. Baseball, football, golf, wrestling and gymnastics are some of the sports that can be especially risky.

If you do engage in sports, there are steps you can take to decrease the impact these activities have on your spine. Doctors and trainers typically recommend athletes to:

  • Use proper safety equipment
  • Get plenty of rest and recovery between workouts, practices and events
  • Have correct posture and technique for your activity
  • Be in good physical condition

While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of developing facet syndrome, even if you completely avoided sports altogether, taking these steps is a great way to avoid injury and keep your spine as healthy as possible.

Treatment options

For patients diagnosed with facet syndrome, conservative treatment is able to provide relief for symptoms in many cases, but surgery can become an option if other methods are exhausted without bringing a return to regular activity.

Spine surgery is usually seen as a last-resort treatment due to the risks and the invasive nature of procedures, especially traditional open neck or back surgery. At Laser Spine Institute our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative, offering our patients a shorter recovery time compared to traditional procedures.^

To learn more and find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.