Sports Related Spondylosis

Spondylosis occurs when the spinal anatomy begins to deteriorate. Rather than being a clinical diagnosis in and of itself, the general term “spondylosis” is frequently used to refer to the pain and other symptoms associated with several specific types of spinal degeneration, including spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. While the most common cause of spondylosis is age-related spinal degeneration, the condition is also seen in young athletes, particularly those who participate in sports that involve spinal hyperextension, rotation and other repetitive movements that can strain and injure the spinal components.

Perhaps surprisingly, spondylosis occurs more frequently among amateur athletes than professional competitors. This phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that the musculoskeletal system naturally adapts over time to intense activity, and thus a professional athlete is conditioned to handle increasing levels of stress. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that spinal deterioration does not always cause immediate discomfort. Because the condition usually progresses gradually, a sports injury can result in back pain that doesn’t manifest until months or even years later.

How athletes can protect themselves

Spinal degeneration cannot be reversed. Therefore, preventing spondylosis is always preferable to treating it after it develops. Here are some protective strategies for athletes:

  • Build bone density – The vertebral bones can be strengthened – and rendered more able to withstand fractures – through targeted resistance training and consumption of recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Wear appropriate footwear – Proper shoes provide a supportive base that helps keep the body balanced and in alignment, which can reduce stress on the spine and the potential for developing spondylosis.
  • Focus on maintaining rotary stability – Maintain control over the movement of the lumbar spine to help prevent injury – think of a professional baseball pitcher who efficiently controls his rotary motion while pitching a ball.
  • Strengthen the core muscles – By improving the body’s overall strength and power, it is possible to generate more force in the upper and lower body with less movement of the lumbar spine.

If spondylosis symptoms develop

If you are experiencing spondylosis symptoms, you should promptly consult with a physician for an accurate diagnosis. In most cases, mild to moderate discomfort can be managed effectively with non-surgical treatments, such as pain relievers, physical therapy and a limited period of rest from sports. However, if your spondylosis symptoms persist or worsen through several weeks or months of conservative therapy, you might want to learn about the minimally invasive techniques performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our highly skilled surgeons have perfected minimally invasive, outpatient surgeries that are effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery for treating spondylosis and a full range of other degenerative spine conditions. Contact us today for a review of your recent MRI.