Top five injuries in basketball
Posted on 1/6/2021
Basketball is arguably one of the most popular sports in America, especially among children and young adults. From March Madness to the NBA finals, people love watching and playing basketball. The love for the game does not take away the risk that it carries for injury, though. Whether played recreationally or in an organized league, there are injuries that arise, and some are more common than others.
Outside of head injuries, the most common basketball injuries typically involve the lower body. Some of the most common ones include:
- Ankle sprains – Nearly half of all basketball-related injuries involve the ankle and foot. From “rolling” an ankle, to landing awkwardly, to getting stepped on, playing basketball leaves athletes open to injury. Treatment for ankle injuries, specifically ankle sprains, involve ICE - ice, compression, elevation - and physical therapy, dependent on the seriousness.
Most injuries can be treated without a trip to the doctor’s office; however, if there is pain directly on top of the outside bone and you are unable to walk a couple steps, a trip to urgent care could be necessary. Typically, with the right exercise plan, an athlete can be back to their sport in two-to-six weeks.
- Thigh bruises – Getting a knee to the thigh can be one of the worst pains for a basketball player. Because of this, more and more athletes are beginning to wear compression garments with thigh padding. If hit hard enough in the thigh by an opposing player, the muscle can tighten up and bruise.
Typically, these injuries can be played through; however, some deep tissue massage by a licensed professional is often needed to help loosen up the muscle. Outside of massage, ICE is recommended.
- Knee injuries: ACL/Meniscus/Patella tendon – Knee injuries are very common in basketball. The three most common knee injuries include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Meniscus and patella tendon. If you watch or play basketball, you have likely heard of these injuries.
An ACL tear is probably the most talked about. The ACL is one of the bands of ligaments that connect the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee. If an ACL is torn, it generally requires surgery and months of physical therapy to return to play.
The meniscus is the little brother of the ACL. Every knee has two, and oftentimes they are injured along with the ACL. The meniscus is the cushioning of the knee joint. Without them, the thigh bone would sit directly on top of the lower leg bones, which would get uncomfortable quickly. Treatment for meniscus injuries can vary from ICE, to surgery and physical therapy, to just physical therapy.
Lastly, patella tendonitis, typically known as jumper’s knee, is the most common knee injury. It is a result of inflammation of the patella tendon which connects your kneecap to your shin bone. Jumper’s knee can usually be healed with a personalized exercise plan from a physical therapist.
- Jammed fingers – Jammed fingers are exceptionally common in basketball. They normally occur when the tip of the finger hits the ball “head on” without bending. This motion can lead to swelling in the finger and immediate pain.
Although uncomfortable, this injury isn’t usually serious. Jammed fingers typically heal without medical interventions or trips to the emergency room. Buddy taping (taping the finger to the finger next to it) and ice can you heal in as little as a week. However, if pain or swelling persists, a trip to your doctor or a consultant with a physical therapist may be necessary.
- Concussion – Concussions make up about 15% of all sport-related injuries, not just basketball. Most of these injuries are typically managed either by an athletic trainer alone, an athletic train and physical therapy or by an athletic trainer in combination with a doctor or other health care professional. A concussion is brain injury that occurs after an impact to the head, neck or body. In basketball, a few examples of when concussions occur is when an athlete hits their head on the hard gym floor or when there is a head-to-head, head-to-elbow, head-to-shoulder, etc., collision. After a concussion is diagnosed, the athlete is unable to return to play for a minimum of five days. Some concussion recoveries can go slowly, with symptoms lingering. When this occurs, concussion and vestibular rehabilitation by a licensed physical therapist is a great option.
Nearly all of these injuries can be resolved with the help of a licensed physical therapist. If you suspect that you have one of these injuries, please contact a center near you to request an appointment today. With a guided treatment and exercise plan provided by a licensed physical therapist, you can be back on the court in no time.
- Erica N. Fletcher, Lara B. McKenzie, and R. Dawn Comstock (2014) Epidemiologic Comparison of Injured High School Basketball Athletes Reporting to Emergency Departments and the Athletic Training Setting. Journal of Athletic Training: May/Jun 2014, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 381-388.
By: Wyneisha Mason, MAT, ATC. ‘Neisha is an athletic trainer with RUSH Physical Therapy in Chicago, Illinois.
RUSH and Dignity Health Physical Therapy are part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division family of brands.