How Limitations Playing Sports or Doing Physical Activities Could Indicate a Spinal Problem

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These days, you can’t run even a few steps without wincing in pain. Or, perhaps you’re having trouble swinging your racket or club thanks to stiffness in your back or neck. We can help.

You used to run all the time, whether it was for exercise or you were chasing down a child. Now, even managing a few steps of running is something you avoid thanks to back pain. Or, maybe you’re no longer hitting the tennis courts or links because every time you swing a racket or club, your spine objects to the movement.

While it’s hard enough to say goodbye to activities you once enjoyed, due to back or neck pain, the issue is also preventing you from getting some of those everyday chores done around the house.

Back and neck problems secondary to changes in your spine can significantly impact various parts of your life and it can be quite frustrating.  You’ve come to the right place to find the answers to your questions and concerns. At our practice, Dr. Ali H. Mesiwala is a leading neurosurgeon who understands the incredibly wide impact that a spine problem can have on your ability to function. 

If you’re encountering limitations when it comes to your favorite activities, or anything physical, for that matter, this blog post is for you.

Everything is connected to your spine

The 33 vertebrae that make up your spine serve as the foundation for your entire musculoskeletal structure, so it’s little wonder that when there's a problem anywhere along your spine, it can have a big impact. 

Breaking these vertebrae down, your spine is divided into five sections:

  1. Cervical spine (neck)
  2. Thoracic spine (mid back)
  3. Lumbar spine (lower back)
  4. Sacrum
  5. Coccyx

No matter where a problem in your spine develops, you can feel the effects in other parts of your body. For example, there are 31 pairs of nerves that exit your spine to make up much of your peripheral nervous system. These nerves carry fibers for pain/temperature, deep sensation, and motor function. So, if you have a pinched nerve in your cervical spine, the symptoms can travel down into your arms and hands, and a pinched nerve in your lumbar spine can impact symptoms in your legs and feet. 

Not only can nerve compression lead to wider issues, if you have degenerative changes or a malfunction in your spine, it can throw other areas of your body out of balance. For example, degeneration in your lower back can lead to hip and knee issues.

Our point here is that even a seemingly small issue along your spine, such as a herniated/bulging disc, can lead to side effects that can bench you from the activities you enjoy.

Your spine and your sport

If you’ve developed some limitations while getting physical, we want you to note these, as they can point us toward the culprit. For example, let’s say you love running, but jarring pain in your lower back with every foot strike is becoming the norm.

Or, maybe you surf and you’re finding it increasingly difficult to jump onto your feet because of back pain.

Or, you love cycling, but after a few miles, you’re experiencing pain in your neck, as well as numbness and tingling in your hand.

Each of these scenarios points us toward certain spine issues, which might include:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint arthritis
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction
  • Intercostal neuralgia

The good news is that once we identify the spine issue, we can work toward helping you find relief so you can get back to the active life you enjoy.

Athletes need to understand that there are options such a neuromodulation therapies and artificial disc replacement and other minimally invasive decompressive procedures that can be done.

The approach to the treatment of spinal disorders when it comes to physically active individuals focuses on motion preservation. Historically, treatment of spinal disc degeneration used to be fairly invasive. Nowadays there are a myriad of treatment options ranging from indivudally tailored physical therapy and precision interventional pain management procedures, to artificial disc replacement and even neuromodulation therapies which allow for muscle regeneration. The key point to understand here is that while there are many modalities to treat your spinal issue, its important to be evaluated by an experienced and knowledgeable surgeon who regularly utilizes a multitude of treatment modalities to precisely help his/her patients. 

As a neurosurgeon, Dr. Mesiwala excels in spine surgery, including artificial disc replacement, as well as SI joint surgery and neuromodulation therapies. He regularly treats patients who are parents, weekend warriors, all the way up to, professional athletes and active duty military. People from all walks of life are afflicted by degenerative changes in the spine and Dr. Mesiwala has the skillset, knowledge, and experience to diagnose and effectively treat each of his patients to ensure that they return to a lifestyle without restrictions. 

To overcome your spine issue and get back in the game, we invite you to contact one of our offices in Newport Beach, Marina del Rey, or Rancho Cucamonga, California, to set up a consultation.