Basketball is a fun and largely beneficial form of exercise that involves the use of many of the bones, joints, and soft tissues that support the spine in some way. Like any other sport that keeps you constantly active and engaged, there are certain risks associated with this activity that could result in spine-related injuries. Here’s a closer look at some common back injuries related to basketball.
Many of the movements required for basketball can place excessive pressure on muscles and tendons around the backbone. If these particular soft tissues are stretched, twisted, pulled, or torn, you have a back strain. If ligaments are affected, it’s a back sprain.
Basketball-related strains and sprains typically become more noticeable once inflammation has a chance to develop and irritate nearby nerves or affect movements. Symptoms you might experience include:
• Difficulty moving comfortably
• Reduced range of motion
• Pain triggered by movement
• Involuntary muscle contractions (spasms)
Some of the movements associated with basketball—especially anything involving accidental falls or hits or failed attempts at making difficult shots—can potentially damage spinal discs, which are spongy discs that cushion the spine and make daily movements less demanding on the backbone. If discs have been damaged, symptoms could include:
• Local pain and/or pain felt in nearby areas (radiating pain)
• General weakness within the affected area
• Numbness, tingling sensations, and other nerve-based symptoms
Existing issues with progressive wear can become worse because of the pressure basketball places on various parts of the spine. One such condition is spondylolisthesis, which is the slippage of one vertebra over an adjacent one, and it’s often caused by age-related changes or wear (degeneration). If basketball accelerates this wear, you may notice discomfort that includes:
• Lower back pain
• Pain extending to legs
• General weakness in lower extremities
To narrow down the likely source of your discomfort, your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon will consider your previous history along with the description of your symptoms. Image tests may be ordered as well to confirm a suspected disc or spinal bone problem. Back strains and sprains are usually diagnosed based on symptoms and the results of a physical examination.
Many of these common back injuries caused or aggravated by basketball respond well to conservative treatments. Options include:
• The RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method
• Wearing a back brace for a short time
• Anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication
• Physical therapy
With disc injuries and spondylolisthesis, minimally invasive surgery may be recommended if other treatment attempts aren’t successful. Possible procedures include:
• Removal of part of a vertebral covering (laminectomy)
• Partial or full disc removal (discectomy or microdiscectomy)
• Spinal fusion to restore or maintain spinal stability
Regardless of how much you play basketball, it’s important to pay attention to your body. Many people assume aches and pains experienced after playing this sport are nothing more than sore muscles, and this is sometimes true. However, any lingering or worsening back pain should be reason enough to take a time-out and check in with your doctor or a spine specialist.
If you’ve injured your back playing sports or you have severe spine pain for any reason, see a spine specialist right away. From artificial disc replacement to XLIF surgery, Los Angeles patients have a variety of options that can alleviate their pain. At The Spine Institute, we specialize in a wide array of cutting-edge techniques for back pain relief. If you’re looking for relief from spine pain, call 310-828-7757 and schedule an appointment.