Spear Tackler's Spine

with Rehab

Spear tackler's spine is a very serious condition. The condition is caused by a combination of a narrowing of the canal the spinal cord and injury to the spine (often due to tackling in football). Spear tackler's spine is diagnosed by x-ray. Spear tackler's spine is a very serious condition. Anyone with this condition should not play contact sports.

SYMPTOMS

  • Pain, soreness, and/or stiffness in the neck.

  • Tenderness and/or inflammation of the neck injury.

  • Signs of nerve damage: numbness, tingling, or weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand.

CAUSES

Spear tackler's spine is a serious medical condition that is caused by a combination of two conditions. The first is a congenital narrowing of the canal the spinal cord passes through (foramen magnum), and the second is injury to the spine due to trauma. Spear tackler's spine may result in a loss of the normal curvature of the spine.

RISK INCREASES WITH:

  • Congenital narrowing of the spine at the neck.

  • Activities that have a high risk of trauma to the neck.

  • Arthritis of the spine.

  • High risk sports, such as football, rugby, wrestling, hockey, auto racing, gymnastics, diving, martial arts, or boxing.

  • Poor neck strength and flexibility.

  • Previous neck injury.

  • Poor tackling technique.

  • Wearing poorly fitted or padded protective equipment.

PREVENTION

  • Learn and use proper technique, especially with tackling. When possible, have a coach correct improper technique.

  • Warm up and stretch properly before activity.

  • Maintain physical fitness:

  • Strength, flexibility, and endurance.

  • Cardiovascular fitness.

  • Wear properly fitted and padded protective equipment (padded soft collars).

PROGNOSIS

Spear tackler's spine cannot be cured. Over time, the spinal cord may regain it's proper shape.

RELATED COMPLICATIONS

  • Permanent or temporary nerve damage: numbness, weakness, or paralysis in the upper or lower extremities.

  • Death.

TREATMENT

Immediately stop all participation in contact sports. Ice and medications may help reduce pain and inflammation. The use of strengthening and stretching exercises are important. These exercises may be performed at home, but often times a referral to a therapist is given. The therapist will work on maintaining proper posture. If pain persists, then wearing a hard or soft cervical collar may provide some relief.

If, over time, the spine returns to a proper alignment, then participation in contact sports may be considered. The risk of injury or death is still higher than for normal individuals.

MEDICATION

  • If pain medication is necessary, then nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, or other minor pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, are often recommended.

  • Prescription pain relievers may be given if deemed necessary by your caregiver. Use only as directed and only as much as you need.

HEAT AND COLD

  • Cold treatment (icing) relieves pain and reduces inflammation. Cold treatment should be applied for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours for inflammation and pain and immediately after any activity that aggravates your symptoms. Use ice packs or massage the area with a piece of ice (ice massage).

  • Heat treatment may be used prior to performing the stretching and strengthening activities prescribed by your caregiver, physical therapist, or athletic trainer. Use a heat pack or a warm soak.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Treatment seems to offer no benefit, or the condition worsens.

  • Any medications produce adverse side effects.

EXERCISES

RANGE OF MOTION (ROM) AND STRETCHING EXERCISES - Spear Tackler's Spine

These exercises may help you when beginning to rehabilitate your injury. Your symptoms may resolve with or without further involvement from your physician, physical therapist or athletic trainer. While completing these exercises, remember:

  • Restoring tissue flexibility helps normal motion to return to the joints. This allows healthier, less painful movement and activity.

  • An effective stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds.

  • A stretch should never be painful. You should only feel a gentle lengthening or release in the stretched tissue.

STRETECH - Axial Extension

  • Stand or sit on a firm surface. Assume a good posture: chest up, shoulders drawn back, abdominal muscles slightly tense, knees unlocked (if standing) and feet hip width apart.

  • Slowly retract your chin so your head slides back and your chin slightly lowers. Continue to look straight ahead.

  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your head. Be certain not to feel an aggressive stretch since this can cause headaches later.

  • Hold for __________ seconds.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRETCH – Cervical Side Bend

  • Stand or sit on a firm surface. Assume a good posture: chest up, shoulders drawn back, abdominal muscles slightly tense, knees unlocked (if standing) and feet hip width apart.

  • Without letting your nose or shoulders move, slowly tip your right / left ear to your shoulder until your feel a gentle stretch in the muscles on the opposite side of your neck.

  • Hold for __________ seconds.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRETCH – Cervical Rotators

  • Stand or sit on a firm surface. Assume a good posture: chest up, shoulders drawn back, abdominal muscles slightly tense, knees unlocked (if standing) and feet hip width apart.

  • Keeping your eyes level with the ground, slowly turn your head until you feel a gentle stretch along the back and opposite side of your neck.

  • Hold for __________ seconds.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

RANGE OF MOTION - Neck Circles

  • Stand or sit on a firm surface. Assume a good posture: chest up, shoulders drawn back, abdominal muscles slightly tense, knees unlocked (if standing) and feet hip width apart.

  • Gently roll your head down and around from the back of one shoulder to the back of the other. The motion should never be forced or painful.

  • Repeat the motion 10-20 times, or until you feel the neck muscles relax and loosen.

Repeat __________ times. Complete the exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTHENING EXERCISES - Spear Tackler's Spine

These exercises may help you when beginning to rehabilitate your injury. They may resolve your symptoms with or without further involvement from your physician, physical therapist or athletic trainer. While completing these exercises, remember:

  • Muscles can gain both the endurance and the strength needed for everyday activities through controlled exercises.

  • Complete these exercises as instructed by your physician, physical therapist or athletic trainer. Progress with the resistance and repetition exercises only as your caregiver advises.

  • You may experience muscle soreness or fatigue, but the pain or discomfort you are trying to eliminate should never worsen during these exercises. If this pain does worsen, stop and make certain you are following the directions exactly. If the pain is still present after adjustments, discontinue the exercise until you can discuss the trouble with your clinician.

STRENGTH – Cervical Flexors, Isometric

  • Face a wall, standing about 6 inches away. Place a small pillow, a ball about 6-8 inches in diameter, or a folded towel between your forehead and the wall.

  • Slightly tuck your chin and gently push your forehead into the soft object. Push only with mild to moderate intensity, building up tension gradually. Keep your jaw and forehead relaxed.

  • Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Keep your breathing relaxed.

  • Release the tension slowly. Relax your neck muscles completely before the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH- Cervical Lateral Flexors, Isometric

  • Stand about 6 inches away from a wall. Place a small pillow, a ball about 6-8 inches in diameter, or a folded towel between the side of your head and the wall.

  • Slightly tuck your chin and gently tilt your head into the soft object. Push only with mild to moderate intensity, building up tension gradually. Keep your jaw and forehead relaxed.

  • Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Keep your breathing relaxed.

  • Release the tension slowly. Relax your neck muscles completely before you do the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH – Cervical Extensors, Isometric

  • Stand about 6 inches away from a wall. Place a small pillow, a ball about 6-8 inches in diameter, or a folded towel between the back of your head and the wall.

  • Slightly tuck your chin and gently tilt your head back into the soft object. Push only with mild to moderate intensity, building up tension gradually. Keep your jaw and forehead relaxed.

  • Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Keep your breathing relaxed.

  • Release the tension slowly. Relax your neck muscles completely before you do the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.