Can a Sports Injury Cause Canal Stenosis?

Sports Injuries Causing Spine Conditions

Participation in sports is a leading cause of spinal canal stenosis among athletes and younger individuals. Those who participate in contact sports like football, basketball, hockey, gymnastics, or wrestling are particularly susceptible to developing spinal stenosis. This is due to the increased risk of spinal injury these activities can have. Non-contact sports that involve repetitive motion like baseball, tennis, and golf can also lead to stenosis.

If you are an athlete looking to lessen your risk of developing canal stenosis and related conditions, it can be helpful to learn more about what stenosis is and how it develops. This information can help you better understand the recommended preventive measures and be more prepared for treatment if you do ever require it.

BEST Health System is a modern ambulatory center offering minimally invasive solutions to common spine and orthopaedic conditions. One of our primary beliefs is to encourage patient education throughout our practice. Patients who are more educated on their condition are more likely to have a successful, speedy recovery. 

Overview of Canal Stenosis

The term stenosis means narrowing. In the spine, stenosis refers to a narrowed region of the spinal canal — canal stenosis — or the spaces located in between vertebrae — called foraminal stenosis. The narrowing is typically caused by displaced spinal anatomy due to conditions like a herniated disc or bone spurs. When these channels get smaller, they can put pressure on spinal nerves, resulting in painful symptoms and mobility problems.

While factors like aging, weight, genetics, and even smoking can all contribute to spine conditions, athletic activity can accelerate spinal degeneration because of the amount of stress they place on the spine regularly.

Preventing and Treating Canal Stenosis

Safely participating in your sport of choice is the best preventive measure you can take. Always use proper technique, safety equipment, and proper posture when engaging in sports. Make sure you are getting enough rest and recovery, have good nutrition, and always stay hydrated. However, spinal injury and canal stenosis can still occur despite taking every precaution.

In many cases, conservative treatments are sufficient for relieving the symptoms of canal stenosis. A doctor will usually recommend the following measures for athletes:

  • Rest and avoidance of sports-related causes of canal stenosis
  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
  • Massage
  • Alternating use of heating pads and ice packs
  • Physical therapy

An athlete should not return to play only with the clearance of a qualified medical professional. Surgery may become an option if conservative treatments are exhausted without improving symptoms enough to return to regular activity.

Surgery with BEST Health System’s Dr. Keith Girton

BEST Health System offers modern solutions for spine and orthopaedic conditions. Depending on your overall health and preferences, our surgeons can help you determine the best treatment path. Our minimally invasive procedures allow our patients to experience a smaller incision and a shorter recovery time, all on an outpatient basis. 

Dr. Keith Girton is our primary spine surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive procedures. He works directly with patients to help them find relief from spine conditions causing chronic pain. 
Contact BEST to learn more about our services.