Spinal injuries occur in both contact and noncontact sports. The specific injury is related to the mechanism, the force involved, and the point of application of the force rather than to the specific sport. Injuries can occur to the supporting tissue, the disk, or the bone. The majority of injuries are self-limiting soft tissue injuries. Injuries at the level of the disk result in disk herniation or degeneration. Those that occur at the level of the bone can range from minimal avulsion-type fractures to compressions or fracture dislocations. Most bony injuries are not associated with neurologic sequelae. Rarely, however, sports injuries do result in significant neurologic compromise. When neurologic impairment occurs, it is usually secondary to direct axial forces. Catastrophic injuries have been associated with football, water sports (especially diving), gymnastics, rugby, and ice hockey.13
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