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Athletes push their bodies to the limit every day. Weekend warriors carry out a less rigorous training schedule, but they too face the risk of injury every time they lace up their running shoes or hit the court. Here are some of the most common types of sport injuries and the treatments available at the Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care.

Slipped Disc

The spinal column is made up of many bones, called vertebrae. Between these bones sits a cushion, called a disc. When the soft tissue inside of this disc bulges through a tear in the rougher exterior, it’s called a slipped or herniated disc. Slipped discs can result from repetitive motion or traumatic injury suffered during a game of contact sports (e.g. football).

Bulging Disc Treatment

  • Rest
  • Pain medications
  • Steroids
  • Back physical therapy
  • Minimally invasive surgery 1

Spondylolysis & Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis occurs when the connections between the vertebrae of the lower back weaken to the point of causing fractures. These stress fractures can further weaken the bones, leading to a condition called spondylolisthesis, in which a vertebra slips out of place. Both conditions can cause back pain.

Back Pain Treatment

  • Rest
  • Non-steroidal medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery 2

Neck Pain & Injury
Many athletes suffer neck strains (muscle injuries) and sprains (ligament injuries). A blow to the neck or head can cause such soft tissue injuries. Repeated movements can also put pressure on the neck, causing wear and tear that weakens the muscles and ligaments. In severe cases, neck fractures and dislocations can occur.


  • Rest
  • Pain medications
  • Spinal injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery 3

Tendon Ruptures

Tendons are fibrous bands of tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. An injury that cuts through the entire tendon is called a rupture. An athlete can rupture the Achilles tendon (which connects the calf to the heel), or the quadriceps tendon (which connects the thigh to the lower leg), or the patella tendon (around the kneecap). Those who jump or run are particularly prone to such ruptures.

Tendon Rupture Treatment

  • Minimally invasive surgery to reattach the tendon; and/or
  • Splinting 4

Knee Injuries

The knee is the largest joint in the body. It’s also complex. Knee injuries are common among athletes, and they come in many varieties—bone fractures, meniscal tears, dislocations, and sprains.

Knee Injury Treatment

  • Ligament reconstruction
  • Knee replacement
  • Arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage 5

About Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care

The Center for Comprehensive Spine Care at Weill Cornell Medicine is a state-of-the-art clinical facility with 15 doctors across four spinal specialties, including neurology, pain management, rehabilitation medicine, and neurological surgery.

The expert specialists at the Center for Comprehensive Spine Care take a collaborative approach to care and treat a range of spinal conditions and injuries, from scoliosis to spinal compression fractures to schwannomas (benign tumors). To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, please call 888-922-2257 or use our contact form to send us a message.


  1. /conditions-we-treat/herniated-disc/diagnosing-and-treating-a-herniated-disc; /conditions-we-treat/sports-injuries
  2. /conditions-we-treat/spondylolisthesis
  3. /conditions-we-treat/neck-pain