Participating in Certain Sports Can Cause Foraminal Stenosis

Foraminal stenosis has many underlying causes, including participation in certain sports. This condition is most briefly defined as a shrinking of the space through which nerve roots exit the spinal column and pass to innervate the rest of the body. As this space constricts, it can place pressure on the nerve roots, causing a range of symptoms in areas down the length of the nerve. For example, a stenosis patient with pinched nerves in their neck may feel tingling in their fingertips, pain in their shoulder or weakness in their arms.

Sports and the deterioration of the spinal cartilage

So, how do sports relate to these issues? Although most cases of foraminal stenosis are caused by congenital conditions or the gradual deterioration of the spine over time, damage sustained while playing sports can also affect the spacing within the spinal foramina. One such example is the loss of cartilage. The wearing away of cartilage between the joints of the spine is commonly seen in older people, but it can be exacerbated by playing sports or participating in activities that involve repetitive twisting of the spine, including golf and gymnastics. When the cartilage wears away, the exposed joint surfaces rub against each other, often causing the body to grow bone spurs in response. These spurs can jut into the foraminal space and cause stenosis.

Bulging discs can also lead to stenosis

Another example of how sports can contribute to the narrowing of intervertebral foramina are the bulging and ruptured discs often sustained when participants hit the ground, boards or other participants with intense force. These injuries can affect hockey and football players, as well as wrestlers and many others. An injured disc can stick out beyond its usual place, narrowing the foraminal space and disrupting the nerve roots.

Consider your treatment options

If you are experiencing the symptoms of foraminal stenosis — no matter what the cause might have been — you may want to think about your surgical treatment options. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about our minimally invasive approaches and to request a review of your MRI.