While not usually a direct cause of spinal narrowing, participating in sports can contribute to the spinal degeneration that is the primary underlying cause of this condition. 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 spinal narrowing
Spinal stenosis — which is another term for spinal narrowing — occurs when damage to spinal tissues causes the space within the spinal column to narrow. This happens to everyone to some degree or another and doesn’t always cause problems, however, when the narrowing results in the compression of the spinal cord or a nerve root, painful symptoms can develop. These include pain, tingling, numbness and weakness that 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 and narrowing to occur. Herniated discs, bone spurs and other conditions often develop as a result of overexertion and can contribute directly to spinal narrowing.
Here are just a few examples of the sports that can potentially speed up degeneration of the spine:
Prevention and treatment for spinal narrowing
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. It is possible to participate in sports while limiting the impact on your spine if you take certain precautions, be sure you stretch thoroughly before participating, practice good form and technique and use any needed safety equipment. It is also critical to listen to your body and not overexert yourself or play through pain.
If spinal narrowing does develop and cause painful symptoms, they can be treated with conservative options like physical therapy, chiropractic care, medication and hot/cold therapy in many cases. Your doctor may recommended surgery if weeks and months go by without an improvement in symptoms. Patients in this situation should contact USA Spine Care today to learn more about the benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery.
We can offer a free MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.
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