How sports contribute to developing a torn disc

A torn disc, also known as a herniated disc, slipped disc or ruptured disc, occurs when one of the spinal discs develops a tear in its hard outer material. This can cause the disc to become misshapen or allow some of the soft inner disc material to spill out. When a damaged disc comes in contact with a nearby nerve, it can result in a wide range of symptoms, including neck or back pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.

Torn discs and sports injuries

There are two primary causes of a torn disc. As we age, our spinal discs naturally weaken from constant wear and tear. They can become brittle and dehydrated, making them more prone to tearing. However, torn discs can also frequently be caused by sudden traumas, such as those experienced when playing certain sports. Some of the most common sports that can increase the likelihood of tearing a disc include:

  • Rugby and football. Contact sports, such as rugby and football, involve repeated hits or impacts that can cause a spinal disc injury.
  • Gymnastics. Similar to high-impact sports, the bouncing and landing motions performed by gymnasts can damage a spinal disc.
  • Golf. Although golfing is not an impact sport, the twisting motion associated with a golf swing can result in a spinal injury as well.

How to avoid spinal injuries while playing sports

There are a number of measures you can take to help minimize your risk of a spinal injury while playing sports. These include wearing proper protective gear, stretching before and after playing a sport, practicing good form and avoiding overexertion by allowing the body to recover between games. However, these do not entirely eliminate the possibility of developing a torn disc.

Treatment for a sports-related torn disc

If you have experienced a torn disc as a result of a sports injury or for any other reason, there are a range of treatment options available. Typically, your physician will first recommend conservative treatment methods, such as rest, physical therapy and hot/cold compresses, to alleviate the symptoms. When these options are not enough, though, surgery may need to be considered.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery,^ and our surgeons hold the highest level of experience in performing these procedures. If you would like to find out if one of our minimally invasive surgical procedures is the right option for your torn disc, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review.*