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In the News, Sports Medicine | Feb 27, 2019

The lengthy duration of the basketball season in conjunction with the extreme athleticism required to play the sport can lead to injuries for young basketball players. Recognizing an injury that stems from court time can help injured athletes seek appropriate treatment and minimize damage done to growing joints.

Muscle and Tendon Injuries

Muscle contusions (often incurred due to impact with another player) and muscle strains (typically caused by twisting or overextending during play) are some of the most common injuries suffered by basketball players. Tendons can also become injured through hyper-extension or severe twisting. In most cases, a doctor will recommend R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and the injury will begin to heal itself. In cases of severe muscle or tendon tears, intervention may be required.

Ankle Ligament Injuries

Injuries to ligaments are also common in basketball, and the most often seen damage done is to the ankle. A low “lateral” ankle sprain is caused by rolling or inverting the ankle, and can occur in basketball, during cutting, by accidentally stepping on an opponent’s foot or through landing awkwardly, which over-stretch of the ATFL (Anterior Talofibular Ligament) or CFL (Calcaneofibular Ligament). R.I.C.E. S.  (the ‘S’ standing for stabilization) is the usual recommendation, although if a ligament is badly torn, arthroscopic surgery may be needed to repair damage.

Knee Ligament Injuries

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) provides stability to the knee, and is usually injured via a rapid change of direction, which can occur during pivoting, cutting, or jumping. An ACL tear or rupture usually requires surgical intervention by an orthopaedic specialist to reconstruct the torn ligament. A strength and conditioning program as well as always playing on a stable surface can help reduce the chances of an ACL tear.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries are often linked to can be linked to repetitive jumping, hip or ankle weakness, muscle imbalances, and play or practice without appropriate rest periods. Playing several different sports and cross training in off season can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Common complaints for basketball players include Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), jumper’s knee or patellar tendinitis, shin splints, or even stress fractures.   

Help prevent injury by ensuring younger basketball players have an appropriate “basketball pre-hab routine”, aid recovery through appropriate treatment by a specialist if an injury occurs, and talk to players about the importance of speaking up if an injury occurs rather than “playing through the pain.” Risk management and speedy attention to injuries can help preserve a long term career for basketball hopefuls.