Can Sports Injuries Cause Spinal Bone Spurs?

Can Sports Injuries Cause Spinal Bone Spurs?

Frequent participation in sports is one of the most common contributing spinal bone spur causes. While it is difficult to predict if a person will develop neck or back problems from playing sports, these activities can potentially speed up the natural deterioration of spinal anatomy. This is why chronic neck and back problems are frequently seen in athletes. Effective treatment of bone spurs, or osteophytes, is typically focused on managing symptoms through conservative therapies, although surgery is sometimes considered to remove these growths physically.

How Do Spinal Bone Spurs Form?

Generally speaking, bone spurs can be caused by participation in sports in two ways:

  • In the aftermath of a traumatic injury, such as a fracture, bone spurs are often naturally formed as the body’s attempt to compensate for a perceived lack of bone density in the region. This can lead to long-term problems in the years that follow the fracture and athletes can often feel the effects of the injury many years after the break has healed.
  • Repetitive bending, twisting, lifting, or jarring movements can often fast-track spinal deterioration because of the wear and tear these activities cause in the spine. For instance, golfers are often prone to back problems because of the burden that a full golf swing has on the spine. Football and hockey players are also highly at risk for spinal degeneration.

Most often, these growths develop because the deterioration from playing sports has contributed to the breakdown of cartilage that lines vertebral joints, leading to the formation of osteoarthritis. Once joint cartilage has been depleted, the body responds by growing excess bone spurs to protect the joint, but sometimes they press on surrounding tissues, causing pain and other discomfort.

Exploring Treatment Options

In many cases, the symptoms can be managed with a course of conservative nonsurgical treatment. However, for some, surgery is considered to physically remove the bone spurs. Many athletes are particularly anxious to address their bone spurs in hopes of continuing their active lifestyles. At BEST Health System, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery that can be used to address spinal arthritis and related conditions.
Contact us today to learn more.