Can sports cause a herniated disc?

A herniated disc occurs when a disc pushes out of the disc space and into the spinal cord, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling and weakness when compression occurs. While the most common cause of a herniated disc is the natural aging process of the spine, sometimes a sport-related injury can cause damage to a disc. In some cases, participation in a sport that requires repetitive twisting and bending can increase the stress placed on the spine, leading to an early development of a herniated disc and other degenerative spine conditions.

Because of the impact and repetitive motions required in many physical activities, sports such as hockey, football, soccer, baseball and golf can lead to eventual disc herniation. For this reason, you should always practice proper form and posture during a sporting activity and consult a doctor if you are experiencing chronic back pain or soreness. To learn about how to lessen the chance of developing a herniated disc if you play sports as well as other factors that play a role in developing this condition, read the following article.

Reduce the risk of a herniated disc caused by sports

In addition to learning the skill set that ensures success on the field, rink, court or golf course, athletes should take the following tips into consideration:

  • A brief warm-up session ensures that muscles are relaxed, joints are loose and blood is circulating
  • Proper weight training ensures that the muscles of the core, neck and back can do their part to support the spine
  • Taking breaks is important because most injuries occur when athletes are tired and have reached their physical limit

If neck or back pain flares up during a game or match, stop playing and apply ice as soon as possible to counteract any swelling. If the symptoms worsen, see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Other factors that contribute to a herniated disc

Men and women who lead active lifestyles from a young age may be more likely to develop a herniated disc or another degenerative spine condition, especially if those sports were played at an intense level during their teenage years. But it’s not necessarily a given that a young athlete will develop a herniated disc later in life. Other herniated disc causes and contributing factors include genetics, overall health and whether the proper techniques and mechanics are employed when playing or practicing a sport.

If symptoms of a herniated disc prevent you from participating in your favorite sports over a period of several weeks or months, reach out to Laser Spine Institute to ask whether you are a potential candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures. Our surgery offers a shorter recovery time than traditional open back surgery^ so you can get back to the field, court or rink sooner than athletes who choose traditional surgery.

For more moderate disc damage, we offer a minimally invasive decompression surgery that removes a small portion of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve root that is causing your pain. However, if the herniated disc damage is more severe, our board-certified surgeons+ will remove the disc entirely and replace it with an artificial disc or bone graft to help stabilize the spine and reduce pain.

Because we use an artificial disc instead of an intervertebral fusion cage and rods (as used during traditional fusion), our patients experience a more natural range of motion after surgery, which can help you get back to your game with similar agility as before your surgery.^ Contact us to learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgery for a herniated disc. Our spine care experts can offer you a free MRI review* and help you get back in the game.

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