Tennis with a Herniated Disc

Tennis with a Herniated Disc

Playing tennis with a herniated disc can make the sport so much less enjoyable for professional and amateur players alike.   Tennis is a demanding sport and having an intervertebral protrusion can be both a physically and mentally limiting handicap. It is crucial to understand the exact nature of any disc injury in order to still participate in your favorite game to the very best of your present ability. 

Herniations might even be caused by playing tennis in rare instances.  Remember that players can jump, trip or fall and all of these events might create the ideal circumstances for a spinal disc to bulge or rupture, especially in older adults who have already suffered typical degenerative desiccation.

This dialog examines the relationship between spinal disc abnormalities and the sport of tennis.  We will provide guidance for patients who want to continue playing, despite a disc problem, and help other patients who are looking for answers as to why tennis may have caused their back or neck pain.


Playing Tennis with a Herniated Disc

Players with known intervertebral herniations are often hesitant to get back on the court.  This is particularly true for players who suffered terrible back or neck pain in association with their herniated disc. However, people with spinal disc irregularities can certainly still lead active lives and playing tennis should be well within the reach of virtually anyone who desires to participate.

Players must always remember that disc abnormalities are not inherently painful.  Some protrusions are completely asymptomatic, while others are unfairly deemed to be the cause of back or neck pain. A small minority of herniated discs can cause chronic pain and neurological symptoms, so it is crucial to speak to your doctor about your specific condition, before making up your mind.

For problematic bulging discs, doctors can typically find a good solution which will resolve the pain and allow any player to get back on the court within a defined time period.  Physical therapists are great at helping patients to find ways to regain physicality after any type of injury, including the most severe spinal herniations.


Tennis with a Herniated Disc Concerns

Some herniations can actually be caused by playing tennis.  These events might result in acute pain or may go completely unnoticed.  This is because each intervertebral disc condition is unique. 

Most herniated discs are not symptomatic and the player might never know that a disc bulge has occurred while playing their preferred sport. Some herniated discs create pain for a short time and may be attributed to playing tennis, while others might be considered idiopathic, especially when symptoms do not begin immediately. A minority of spinal disc protrusions might create lasting problems, such as spinal stenosis or foraminal stenosis.  These are the types of pathologies that usually do require professional medical care.

Tennis can enact any type of herniation, since the body is used aggressively to play the game.  Players will lunge, jump, spin, twist, bend, stretch, exert, fall and run during any vigorous session.  Any and all of these activities can cause or contribute to a disc pathology or an innocent intervertebral abnormality.


Mindbody Influences on Tennis with a Herniated Disc

Tennis is a competitive and perfectionistic sport.  This makes it attract certain personality types and it just so happens that the typical tennis-oriented emotional profile is the most susceptible to psychosomatic disc pain

Being labeled with a positive diagnosis for a structural disc-based causation will play into this psychoemotional stress and allow the person to have a good excuse for not performing up to their own expectations or may even provide reason to stop playing all together.  We have seen this time and time again with all levels of competitive athlete.

We love the sport of tennis and hope that all of you, who have been sidelined by a disc injury, will be back on the court soon.  We know that it can be scary when you are in pain and playing tennis again seems like a long-shot.   However, we can tell you from personal experience that there is hope.

Surrendering to a physicophobia, of any variety, is detrimental to the recovery process, regardless of the whether the disc is truly the actual source of pain or has just mistakenly been implicated as such. 

If the disc is truly pathological, targeted treatment should bring about relief.  Once rehabilitated, you should be able to get back on the court and enjoy your game for the rest of your life. If the disc condition is coincidental to the pain, which most are, it is vital to get past the nocebo effect of the diagnosis and realize the innocent nature of the herniation.  If you can accomplish this task, there will be nothing from stopping you from dominating on the tennis court for a long time to come.



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