Helping to avoid future sciatica as a teenage athlete

Sciatica, the set of symptoms associated with the compression of the sciatic nerve in your lower back, often originates from activities performed and injuries suffered during your teenage years. These symptoms, consisting of shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in your late 30s or early 40s, could actually be traced back to a hard tackle you made for the high school football team or a nasty spill you took on the ski slopes during a family winter vacation to the mountains. Even if you only felt temporary soreness back then, it can reappear in your adult years in the form of sciatica pain. Read on to learn more about the causes of this debilitating condition and whether prevention is possible.

How teenage injuries cause sciatica

An injury suffered 20 or more years ago may begin to cause back problems in your 30s and 40s because, as the body ages, the spine begins to weaken and break down from years of wear. The greater the strain on your neck and back, the faster the deterioration occurs. A neck or back injury suffered during the teenage years might not cause immediate problems, but as it heals, it could create small changes within the spine that might accelerate the degeneration process of the spine later in life.

For example, if you took a blow to the lower back as a teenager, even if you never felt the need to see a doctor about it, there’s a chance that a disc or a facet joint may have been hit out of place. Even if it’s a temporary displacement, it could result in scar tissue that may have a profound effect on the stability of the still-developing spine. Later, that instability could cause compression of the sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica.

Preventing sciatica

Although the teenage years are so crucial to spine health later in life, teenagers can’t prevent injuries that may result in future sciatica. No two people experience spinal weakening and injury in exactly the same way, and the process of the natural aging of the spine is virtually unpredictable. However, there are a few methods of precaution that can be taken with teenage injuries to help prevent the damage from turning into sciatica or another condition later in life. Teenagers who hurt their backs, even slightly, should visit a doctor to make sure that there are no potential long-term complications.

Sciatica treatment

If you are an adult and you are experiencing the chronic and excruciating pain of sciatica, contact Spine Institute to see if one of our minimally invasive spine surgeries is right for you. We offer several advantages versus traditional open back surgery, including a shorter recovery time, a lower risk of complication and a lower risk of infection.^

To treat sciatica, our highly skilled surgeons use a small incision that is muscle sparing to remove the herniated disc, bulging disc or bone spur pressing on the sciatic nerve, thereby relieving the symptoms associated with this condition. Reach out to us to learn more about our outpatient surgery and have our team review your MRI for free* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our procedures.

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