[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A neck strain, a disc injury or minor fractures are usually of smaller consequence than surgical problems. These injuries are usually treated with conservative therapies.
The management of elite athletes after neck injury is very special indeed. All care must be taken to make sure that the athlete is indeed ready for the return to contact sports.
These management protocols are helpful to labor-intensive professions, such as a brick layer, a plumber, an electrician, a construction worker or a welder. The protocols are important for a regular person to keep in mind, as well, when they are trying to achieve a high-performance lifestyle after spinal surgery.
When an elite athlete is being considered for return to contact sports, then the spinal surgeon begins a comprehensive evaluation.
His or Her Story: A spine surgeon will sit down with his athlete to gather a complete and focused history in an organized fashion, appropriate to the clinical situation. The goal is to understand the symptoms, level of suffering and what, if anything, has been done for treatment.
Athletes may typically complain of a sharp, lancing pain that progresses distally from the neck through the scapula, or shoulder blade, and into the various specific zones of the arm or hand. This is known as radiculopathy, a condition due to a compressed or irritated nerve in the spine that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness along the course of the nerve.
Return to contact sports play typically occurs when the athlete has no complaints or symptoms. Spinal surgeons, at their discretion, may return an athlete with minimal numbness, or minimal weakness.
Range of Motion: Assessment of the cervical spine typically involves assessment in the flexion-extension, lateral bends and rotation planes. It is usually recommened to have full painless range of motion for return to contact sports. The spinal surgeon makes the call for return to sports based upon the usual range of motion for the athlete, and factors such as position and play.
Motor Power: Each muscle has specific spinal nerve innervation. The biceps and the wrist extensors shown has C6 innervation. The spinal surgeon will test to make sure that the power of the nerves is intact before return to sport.
X-Rays: X-Rays are taken to check the bony integrity of the spine. Pre-existing conditions such as spondylolisthesis may be ok, so long as the athlete is pain-free with good range of motion.
MRI Scans: MRI scans tell about the condition of the spinal cord, nerve roots and disc spaces.
Cervical Stabilization: Cervical stabilization consists of a series of incremental exercises that starts in good posture, emphasizes range of motion in good posture, and strengthening in good posture. Athletes getting ready to return to contact sports typically show strength, range of motion and balance using advances cervical stabilization techniques.