Spinal Narrowing Caused by Sports

Participation in organized sports can eventually cause spinal narrowing years after the games have stopped. That’s because a history of playing contact sports makes a person more susceptible to spine injury and also often accelerates the natural deterioration of the spinal column that comes with age. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t play sports altogether, but it is important to be mindful of the activities that can make you more at risk for spine problems. From there, you can plan accordingly and protect your body by using appropriate equipment, stretching properly and not overdoing it.

The correlation between sports and stenosis

Spinal stenosis – which is another term for spinal narrowing – occurs when damage to spinal tissues causes the space within the spinal canal to narrow. This isn’t inherently problematic, however when the narrowing results in the compression of the spinal cord or its nerve roots, a variety of uncomfortable symptoms can develop. These include chronic pain or pain, tingling, numbness and weakness that seem to radiate along the length of a nerve.

Participating in high-impact sports is one of the leading causes of spinal narrowing not because the game itself will cause the spinal canal to narrow, but because these activities take a toll on the spinal anatomy and make it more likely for degenerative changes to result in spinal stenosis. Herniated disc material, bone spurs and other material often develop as a result of overexertion and use, and can contribute directly to spinal narrowing.

Here are just a few examples of the sports that can take their toll on the spine:

  • Hockey
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Golf

What it all means

While playing sports can make you more at risk for spinal narrowing and other degenerative spine conditions, physical activity can also strengthen your core muscles, help you maintain a healthy body weight and improve your overall health. All this is to say that sports shouldn’t be avoided, but rather you need to be mindful of how you play, be sure you stretch thoroughly before participating and be sure to not overdo it or play through pain. To learn more about spinal narrowing and the treatment options available to you if your condition does not respond to conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute today.