We’ve written about sports-related injuries before, but it’s always good to reiterate the importance of protecting your spine during competition. Athletes who participate in contact sports obviously run a greater risk of spinal injury, and those who have an existing condition, such as degenerative disc disease or sciatica, could be at a higher risk for chronic pain following a game. At the Colorado Spine Institute in Loveland, we want to help patients understand their condition, overcome their pain, and get back to the game they love. In this post, we’ll look at two contact sports – football and hockey – and why it’s important to protect the spine at all times.


Millions of people watch football every week during the fall, and one of the most enticing aspects of the sport is the contact between players. A well-made tackle or quarterback sack always gets the crowd on its feet. Professional football has come a long way since its inception, as has the protective gear that the players well. A lot of focus has been put on concussions (as it should) and helmets have undergone a transformation in the past few years. Along with the head, the neck and the spine are the most susceptible to injury following a tackle that impacts the torso. A player who complains about having a “stinger” is actually experiencing trauma to the nerves in the cervical spine. A stinger can be accompanied by numbness or a burning sensation in one of the arms, and the sensation usually subsides. If it doesn’t subside, it’s important for the athlete to see the team doctor right away, who may refer them to a spine specialist.


Another popular sport that gets underway during the fall is hockey. Most amateur leagues have rules against checking, but those who play in college, semi-pro, and professional levels have to deal with other players attempting to collide with them to separate them from the puck and stop the flow of the play. Hockey players wear full pads, and since 1979, the National

Hockey League (NHL) has mandated that all players wear helmets (visors became mandatory in 2013). The speed and skill of hockey can lead to some serious collisions, and even with full pads, injuries still occur. Fractures to the cervical, lumbar, and thoracic spine are possible, and such an injury can sideline a player for a long period of time. If you’re planning to lace up your skates this fall, make sure you have proper protection for your spine.

At CSI, we want everyone to enjoy healthy competition and the games they love, but if you’re concerned about an existing spinal condition or the possibility of an injury while playing hockey or football, please contact us today. We will examine your spine and help you understand your condition, as well as provide recommendations on the proper protective equipment.

Even the smallest injury can turn into a major issue if not treated promptly. When you need expert spinal care in Northern Colorado, we’ll be here.

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