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Slipped Disc in the Neck & Rugby

 

Slipped Disc Introduction

A slipped disc or a "cervical Disc Pro-lapse" will cause neck pain which can radiate to the arm. A slipped disc is less common in the neck compared to the lower back. Contact sports such as rugby are high risk sports for neck injuries.

The discs consist of a circle of connective tissue with a central gel-like core. This makes the spine flexible and at the same time acts as a protective buffer.

A slipped disc occurs due to the breaking down of the circle of connective tissue with advancing age. This causes a weakness allowing the soft part to swell.

Repeated stress to a rugby players neck caused by tackling can lead to degeneration of the outer layer if the discs which will cause a slipped disc.

Slipped Disc in the Neck Signs & Symptoms

The player will complain of severe pain in the neck and shoulders which may radiate to the arm. The pain will worsen when the neck is moved side to side and in some cases coughing can also trigger the pain. The player may find it difficult to sleep and drive, muscle spasms in the neck may also occur.

In some cases the player will not complain of neck pain but only arm pain and vice versa.

Slipped Disc in the Neck Treatment

Initially the player should rest and take painkillers. The doctor may prescribe anti inflammatory medication. A soft neck collar to support the neck and prevent movement will be necessary. This will remove stress on the neck and allow healing. Neck pain pillows for the bed, car and sofa can help to correct neck alignment and limit movement.

A physiotherapist will use gentle massage and recommend the use of heat packs to relive pain and muscle spasms.

Traction is often used for a slipped disc in the neck; this involves the upwards pulling force to the neck. This strengthens and lengthens the neck, which in turn relieves pressure on the neck. It also alleviates symptoms and pressure on the nerve roots.

What you can do

• Consult a sports injury expert
• Wear a neck collar for warmth and support
• Use a supportive neck pillow at night to promote correct neck alignment
• Use heat packs & massage to relieve muscle spasm & pain


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