spinal sports injuries

A look at spinal injuries that can occur during the participation of any sport

Cervical Spine Injury

The cervical spine is the uppermost part of the spine which holds your skull in place and is responsible for neck and head movement.The cervical spine has 7 vertebrae usually known as C1-7,C8 is the base vertebrae and the start of the thoracic spine and is sometimes mentioned when describing the cervical spine.Damage to the cervical spine is most likely to occur in high impact collisions such as car accidents or physical contact sports.Injury to the cervical spine can have devastating results.
Lesion in the spinal chord can cause transverse myelopathy,which can result in total paralysis of the spine and it’s function below the lesion.Although such injuries in sport have become rare in the past decade or two due to protective equipment improving and the greater awareness of the risk damaging the cervical spine to the extent it damages the spinal chord in this region.In such cases where a heavy impact has occurred and the athlete is complaining of numbness,loss of feeling,immediate medical care must be sought and the situation be fully explained that this may be a cervical injury.
Any movement should be kept to a minimum to minimize the risk of a secondary injury caused by movement.In most cases of this type of injury protective equipment will be worn and warrants very careful removal and should be carried out by a medical team unless a deterioration of the athletes condition requires immediate removal.Less serious cervical injuries may involve weaker movement of the limbs,the limbs affected will be related to the c1-7 vertebrae which has been damaged.Fractures and herniated discs may causes similar symptoms.
Thankfully serious cervical injuries are rare however it is good to have the awareness of the potential damage which can be caused.It also highlights the the need to wear the correct protective equipment in contact sports such as rugby,American and Australian football and other contact sports.Martial arts moves can also place increased stress on the cervical vertebrae such as choke moves.It is common to see athletes involved in these sports to have very muscular necks to help absorb any impacts.The muscle helps protect the cervical spine from injury.In the case of martial arts a muscular neck and allow the ability to shrug off a choke move from a weaker opponent so giving them a competitive edge,the side effect of this is increased strength within the neck.
Bad posture can cause increased stress on the neck and the back,this is more likely to show as you age and the spine becomes less flexible.The spine is central to the body’s ability to move and it is worth taking the little time to correct in bad posture,indeed form is an important aspect of many athletes to obtain their optimal performances.This quick article was aimed at giving a little insight into how important your cervical spine is to your motor function and the possible results of serious trauma to this area.I look forward to the day there are zero cases of severe cervical injury in sport.

The video below shows a horrific cervical spine injury which Happened to Buffalos Bills Kevin Everett.

The link here shows us Kevin having pretty much fully recovered which is absolutely fantastic considering the severity of his injury.


Effects of Spinal Injury On an Athletes career

It is not uncommon for sports people to suffer back or neck injuries at something during their career. These injuries in their basic form are created by too much strain being placed on the back and neck muscles. Due to the role back plays in relation to the body, these injuries usually occur in specific areas according to the sport. Contact sports such as rugby, Australian rules football and American football are generally the types of sports which will result in more serious injury.

Back injuries can occur carrying out everyday activities such as lifting heavy weights in the wrong manner. Sporting injuries may, due to the injury, end and athletes career. Spinal injury can lead to some very serious conditions such as paralysis in extreme cases. Due to the nature of the structure of the spine it is not uncommon for a damaged area of the spine to affect another part of the spine. Chiropractors and physiotherapists will use x-rays to determine what, if any,area of the spine has been damaged.

The spine can be broken up into three sections the cervical vertebrae, more commonly known as the neck, the thoracic vertebrae, more commonly known as the mid section of the back, and the lumbar vertebrae, the lower of back. Attached to each vertebrae are a series of ligaments and muscles which allowed the back to have mobility without causing damage to the spine. Cartilage discs can be found in between each vertebrae, these these discs cushion the vertebrae. Most back pain can be dealt with by a chiropractor or physiotherapist through manipulation of the spine and muscles surrounding it. However injuries such as vertebrae fractures may require surgery due to the risk of further spinal damage. Recovery for most tissue related strains were tears can take anywhere between 3 to 9 weeks to fully recover. It would be inadvisable to participate in the sport during this time. Massage therapy may also speed up the recovery process. In all circumstances always seek professional chiropractic or physiotherapy advice.

Chiropractic Help In The Recovery Process

Due to the nature of spinal injuries it is not uncommon for professional athletes to consult a chiropractor,in many cases their income depends on
their ability to participate in their chosen sport.The injury can be due to contact,overexerting themselves or simply not allowing enough time for the
body to recover.As children our spine is more pliable,when you look at kids play you wonder how they can twist their bodies into the positions they do.
As we grow older our bones become less flexible,a combination of wear and age weaken the spine and thus an athlete becomes more prone to injury.

Chiropractic help offers a solution to possibly speeding up the recovery process.X-rays will be taken to see if there are any small fractures and other
conditions and a course of action set for treatment and recovery.Chiropractors are masters of spinal manipulation.Indeed the side effect of chiropractic
treatment can be an increased feeling of well-being.Often unnoticed injuries can cause the bodies sympathetic nervous system to actually adjust our
bodies posture to either lessen the pain or compensate for the injury.A good example of this sympathetic nervous reaction would be injuring your ankle,
the opposite foot will take the majority of your bodies weight to lessen the stress on the affected ankle.It is automatic.People with bad back posture can
suffer from this condition as well,poor posture affects various parts of the body.

The chiropractor will assess the patient and offer a course of treatment based on their findings,many professional athletes take advantage of a chiropractors
skill and advice before they get injured,which makes sense.Weight lifting often involves injuries to the back and lifting in general is a common way of injuring the back.
Indeed the spine is designed in a way to adapt and balance us in the most efficient way however sudden movements,lifting weights can cause injuries.
Imagine standing on a pallet,3-4″ inches off the ground holding a 50kg box and the pallet breaks and you drop that 3-4″ the stress on back and neck is enormous because the spine is getting compressed toward the neck.I use this example as one that has happened to me personally and the pain in my lower back was almost unbearable because I did not let go of the box,I didn’t have time to.So I can speak with experience on back injuries and the benefit of chiropractors.It is the reason I have such an interest in spinal injuries,particularly sport related injuries as the stress and compression in many sports injuries are similar if not more intense than the situation I found myself in.

Bear in mind a chiropractor is a specialist in the way the spine works and how to treat any spinal injuries.Prevention is always the best route to take,
warming up properly,keeping the body warm,adequate rest,but sometimes circumstances just cause a freak injury so when this happens seek the advice of a professional chiropractor if you feel pain in the back or neck after an injury.You will be on the road to recovery all the faster and back to your normal self.
It’s amazing how good feeling normal is when you have been injured.

Chiropractic Help

Photo courtesy of Dr Weisgerber

The Spinal Cord

The spinal chord paired with the brain is what makes up what we call the central nervous system.The spinal chord can be likened to an electrical cable.
An electrical cable has an outer protective layer,a sheath and the cables are contained within this protective layer.Likewise the spine with all it’s vertebrae acts
as a protective layer to the nerves contained within it.Damaging a vertebrae in the neck or spine may not result in damage to the spinal chord but great
care in any treatment would be required under these circumstances to avoid further damage and any potential damage to the spinal chord could have devastating results
to the person in question.

Injury to the spinal chord ,in particular the neck or cervical section of the chord is the most damaging,this damage frequently results in Tetraplegia which is the
total paralysis of the legs and arms.Damage to the thoraic section of the spinal chord may result in paraplegia which paralysis of the lower body.Finally any spinal chord
damage to the lumbar region may result in paralysis of the legs.If the legs are not paralysed there will likely be a loss of feeling in the legs and considerable mobility issues.

Although there are advances in the medical treatment of such damage there is,to date,no cure.Any surgery would be,at best,very risky.Immediate treatment
after the injury may lessen the damage but there are no guarantees.Such injuries are primarily caused by motor accidents and high falls but there are
instances within contact sports whereby people have been paralysed although these are,they are life changing for those involved.

For more information on spinal chord damage and details on how you can help fund research into spinal chord damage by making a small donation please visit http://www.thespinalcordfoundation.org/

One day they hope to find a cure and this requires extensive research,and although most in our lifetime may not see this cure,it could help the generation being born today so please visit their site,and if possible make a small donation,as they say every penny counts,and in this case,it is especially true.


This video has some useful information on the anatomy of the spinal chord itself



What Causes Stress Fractures of The Back

Stress fractures are small fractures caused too much pressure being placed on the lower spine.Sports such as tennis use movements which apply considerable pressure on the lower back and over time this can result in stress fractures.Stress fractures can noted for pain being felt in forward and backward movement.Persistent headaches may also be a symptom.

Treatment will usually involve rest,in some rare cases the back may need to be immobilised to prevent further damage.If swelling occurs ice packs may be used to control this.Full recovery can be measured in months.Chiropractic treatment may prevent further damage and assist in a speedier recovery.

Stress fractures of the back can generally be avoided by suitably warming up prior to engaging in any intensive sports activity.Increasing the intensity of any workout gradually is always a good practice.If necessary wear suitable support for the back such as weight training belt for lifting weights.

Rest is vital for the body to recover after any form of exercise or physical activity,by over-exerting the body prior to having suitably recovered put undue stress on the body which often leads to an injury of some form.

Welcome to spinal sports injuries

In this blog we will be looking into the various spinal injuries which can occur whilst taking part in most sports.These injuries vary greatly in their severity.We’ll also take a look at some back strengthening excercises which may help avoid such injuries.

As always consult with a qualified doctor or chiropractor if you have an back or neck pain before taking part in any sport or exercise.