Your spine is a complex network of bones and nerves that supports your upper body and protects your spinal cord. The spine is a durable body part, but it can still get damaged, resulting in orthopedic spinal injuries. Injuries usually occur in patients who participate in high- and low-impact sports without adequate training and protection.
Read on to learn some of the most common sports-related orthopedic spinal injuries.
Disc herniation is one of the most prevalent orthopedic spinal injuries athletes sustain. This happens when the spine experiences high amounts of force, causing the spinal discs between the vertebrae to rupture or leak.
Discs allow you to bend and move the back with ease, especially during physical activities. Injuring the discs results in extreme pain along the spine when engaging in sports.
The herniation of spinal discs is also due to age-related wear and tear, as they degenerate over time. Older athletes who overuse their back muscles are more vulnerable to herniated discs compared to younger athletes. However, young athletes are still prone to this injury, especially if they skip warmup exercises. Other factors contributing to disc herniations include lifting heavy objects, smoking, and sitting in the same position for a long time.
Herniated disc treatment typically involves pain medication and physical therapy. The worst-case scenario is requiring patients to undergo surgery if the treatments fail to improve.
Back Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are common orthopedic spinal injuries that arise from playing sports. Excessive pushing and pulling movements, like weightlifting and football, put you at risk of sprains and strains.
A sprain happens when a ligament stretches or tears, whereas a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Sprains and strains usually occur from overexertion of muscles or sudden twisting movements that push ligaments beyond their limits.
Fortunately, most sprains and strains respond well to rest and home remedies. It helps to apply ice packs for the first 24-48 hours after an injury. You can also relieve pain using medication like ibuprofen (Motrin®). If symptoms persist for more than one week, seek medical help.
Your vertebrae can break under intense pressure or when experiencing strong impacts. If you sustain a bad fall or collision while playing, your bones may have fractured. A spinal fracture may impair or damage your spinal cord.
Spinal fractures come in two forms: compression and burst. A compression fracture occurs when a vertebra gets crushed, while a burst fracture happens when the vertebral column breaks. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may experience difficulty in walking or an inability to control your arms and legs.
A spinal fracture requires urgent treatment, especially if the compression affects the spinal cord and nerve roots. To treat a spinal fracture, you may have to wear a brace or corset for several weeks. Surgery is the typical treatment for severe cases.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition when a vertebra falls out of normal alignment and slips onto the bone below. The slipped vertebra may put pressure on a nearby nerve, causing pain or other symptoms.
Young athletes who participate in gymnastics, football, and weightlifting are at greater risk of spondylolisthesis, as it tends to overstretch the lower spine. The vertebra is also likely to slip during growth spurts. However, older individuals can also develop this condition as a result of age-related changes to the spine.
The treatment you receive will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Most individuals respond well to non-surgical treatments such as rest, medication, and physical therapy. However, patients who have severe spondylolisthesis or experience pain even after conservative treatment may warrant surgery.
Spondylolisthesis is a spinal injury that triggers lower back pain. The condition entails a fracture of one of the small bones that make up the spinal column. Thus, the spinal column may fall out of normal alignment, causing the lower vertebrae (spinal bone) to slip forward onto the bone below it. In some cases, the slipped vertebra may put pressure on a nearby nerve resulting in extreme pain.
Treatment For Orthopedic Spinal Injuries In Rochester Hills, MI
Your spine is vital in maintaining your upright stability and making movement possible. However, the mechanical pressure and stresses of sports make your spine vulnerable to a wide range of orthopedic spinal injuries.
If you suffer from persistent back pain or would like to know how to prevent orthopedic spinal injuries, visit Ahlgren Spine today. Dr. Bradley Ahlgren is a board-certified and fellowship-trained spine surgeon with more than 25 years of clinical experience. Dr. Ahlgren can perform a thorough diagnosis and craft a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs.
To schedule an appointment, call us today at (248) 215-8080. We serve Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, and Royal Oak. Let us help you get the care you deserve.