Participation in Sports is One of the Leading Spinal Bone Spur Causes

Frequent participation in sports is one of the most common spinal bone spur causes. While it is difficult to predict who, exactly, will develop neck or back problems from playing sports, it is clear that these activities can accelerate the natural deterioration of the elements that make up the spine, and it’s no wonder that chronic neck and back problems are frequently seen in athletes. Effective treatment of bone spurs, or “osteophytes,” is typically focused on managing the symptoms that develop because of the osteophytes, although surgery is sometimes considered to physically remove the bony growths.

Why does participation in sports often lead to bone spurs?

Generally speaking, bone spurs can be caused by participation in sports in two unique ways:

  • In the aftermath of a traumatic injury, such as a bone fracture, bone spurs are often naturally formed as the body’s attempt to compensate for a perceived lack of bone density in the region. This can lead to long-term problems in the years that follow the fracture, however, and oftentimes athletes will feel the effects of the injury many years after the break has healed.
  • Repetitive bending, twisting, lifting or jarring movements can often fast-track spinal deterioration because of the wear and tear these activities cause in the spine. For instance, golfers are often prone to back problems because of the burden that a full golf swing has on the spine. Football and hockey players are also highly at risk for spinal degeneration like bone spurs.

Most often, these growths of bone develop because the deterioration from playing sports has caused the cartilage that lines vertebral joints to wear away, leading to the formation of osteoarthritis. Once joint cartilage has been depleted, the body responds by growing excess bone masses (bone spurs) to protect the joint, but sometimes these bony growths press on surrounding tissues, causing pain and other discomfort.

Treatment options

In most cases, the symptoms of spinal bone spurs can be managed with a regimen of conservative, non-surgical treatment. However, for some individuals, surgery is considered to physically remove the osteophytes. Many athletes are particularly anxious to address their bone spurs in hopes of continuing their active lifestyles. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer several minimally invasive spine procedures that can be used to address spinal arthritis and bone spurs. Contact us today to learn more.