Athletics Often Lead to Cervical Spine Injuries

If you’re a weekend warrior, then aches and pains are a normal part of your life. But as our cervical spine specialist in NJ can tell you, there’s a big difference between the pain that comes from a bit more exertion than what you’re used to, and the type that comes from a serious injury. Even as more and more people get involved in sports ranging from “extreme” to backyard games of tackle football, the number of spine injuries being incurred is going down – this is largely a result of improved safety measures. Still, roughly one out of every ten spine injuries are a direct result of some type of athletic endeavor, and many of them involve the neck.

Spinal cord injuries that involve the neck are referred to as cervical spine injuries. During cold weather they happen most frequently to high school and college football players, and during the summer they happen when people dive into shallow water. In both cases the bones in the neck can fracture or shift after trauma. This shift then puts pressure on the spinal cord, which can cause significant pain and – in some cases – dangerous conditions impacting breathing and threatening mobility and even survival. Fortunately, in most cases injuries are not as severe, and result in sprains and muscle strains.

As a cervical spine specialist in NJ, I see many patients who have suffered this type of injury. In addition to football and diving, other sports that have high risk of cervical spine injury are rugby, hockey, and wrestling. Noncontact sports such as equestrian activities, skiing, surfing, and track and field can also lead to injury. There are numerous treatments available depending upon the severity of the condition. Even though most mild injuries don’t involve fractures, they can still compress the nerves in the neck or spinal cord and lead to numbness or lack of function. For the mildest treatment starts with ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medications, then is followed with stretching exercises a few days afterwards.

When more significant physical injuries involving fractures or separations of the bones occur, it can cause injuries to the spinal cord. In some cases, fractures are what is known as non-displace: the bones stay in their pre-fracture position. In others, the fractures cause the bones to be displaced. Even if the accident doesn’t cause an immediate injury to the nerves or spinal cord, these injuries can lead to the spine being unable to maintain its position, eventually leading to nerve injury and pain.

Engaging in sports is a great way to get some exercise, relieve stress, and get out into the fresh air. But it can also put you at risk of some of the most severe spinal cord injuries. If you have been hurt, it’s important to be seen as quickly as possible by a cervical spine specialist in NJ who can assess your condition, evaluate it, and provide the appropriate treatment. Contact our office immediately to set up an appointment.

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