Common sports injuries to the spine
Pro sports, school-sponsored sports, or vigorous exercise can all lead to painful spine conditions. Four common types of sports-related spine injuries include:
Neck “stingers” or “burners”
This injury is related to an impact to the head in which it moves to one side, with the shoulder moving the other direction. The impact causes the cervical (neck) nerves to compress or stretch beyond their natural capacity, leading to radiating pain through an arm. The symptoms of this injury come and go, with a sensation like an electric shock, which can last from seconds to minutes.
Vertebral stress fracture
These fractures occur when excessive stress is put on the spine. Tiny cracks develop in the vertebrae, called stress fractures. The symptoms of a stress fracture include swelling, pain, and bruising. These injuries require evaluation by a spinal surgeon, as if left untreated, can worsen.
The soft cushions between the vertebrae can be damaged by the constant twisting and turning of various sports. The discs protecting the spine can be subjected to too much pressure and motion, leading to a herniated disc. The symptoms of this injury include pain, weakness, numbness, and radiating pain.
When a vertebral bone is broken, the condition is serious and requires immediate treatment to protect the nerves in the spinal cord from damage. A severe fall in sports can lead to a fracture. The therapy required can vary based on the extent of the damage to the bone structure. The symptoms include severe pain, weakness, numbness, tingling, paralysis of arms or legs, or limited sensation and motion below the point of impact.