Participating in sports can be one of life’s great joys. But it can also lead to very real pain. Whether you’ve been injured on the field, the court, the ski slope or the track, you have to deal with both the physical aspects and the mental – especially if you are driven to return to play.
Though it’s natural for competitive athletes and weekend warriors alike to focus on getting back into the game, returning to athletic activities before your body is ready can lead to permanent injury.
Fortunately, there are simple surgeries that can not only alleviate your pain but also return you to your best self.
There are many different ways that you can get injured while doing your favorite sports, and many types of sports-related back and neck injuries. These include:
- Bicycling – Cycling can strain the lumbar spine and cause pain in the cervical spine due to the hunched over position and arched back that many riders assume. Additionally, riding on bumpy terrain can cause compression in the spine or aggravate a herniated disc.
- Lifting Weights – Some bodybuilding activities can exacerbate degeneration due to aging and arthritis, hastening the thinning of cushioning between the discs. Improper lifting techniques can also cause injury.
- Golf – Golf requires an exertion of force at the same time as the body twists This can lead to lower back injuries, and particularly to strain of the spinal muscles or facet joints in the spine.
- Running – The constant pounding involved in running exacerbates compression that may already exist, causing herniated discs to put pressure on nerve roots.
- Baseball – The torque and pressure of swinging the bat while twisting the body is similar to that of golf, and can lead to herniated discs in the back.
- Football – Football is a contact sport that frequently leads to cervical spine injuries.
No matter what sport you play or whether you are a hobbyist or professional athlete, today’s medical technology has introduced new surgical techniques that are minimally invasive and from which people who have suffered injury can bounce back quickly and get back to the activity that they love.
One of the most frequently performed surgeries for athletes is the microdiscectomy, a procedure that removes material that has leaked out of cervical or lumbar discs and which then puts pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord itself.
This procedure is done using a special microscope that is slipped through a very small incision. It allows the surgeon to see all of the internal structures that are contributing to the patient’s pain without having to make a large incision or having to cause trauma to tissue and muscle. Surgical instruments are inserted through additional small incisions and the surgical field is visible to the surgeon on a screen.
Patients who undergo this type of surgery are generally up on their feet shortly after their anesthesia wears off, and can go home the same day or the next day. Recovery is much faster, and that means that athletes are able to return to their sport much sooner.