Syracuse Area Health – Strasburger Orthopaedics

Common Injuries in Youth Basketball Players

Basketball season brings a renewed interest in the game and an excitement of being back on the court. Injuries can sideline a young player, however, so it’s crucial to know what the most common injuries look like, how to prevent them, and how to treat them if they occur.

Foot and Ankle Injuries

Due to the nature of the game (close quarters shuffling, quick pivots, and jump / landings, lower extremity injuries lead the pack when it comes to basketball. Your kid may roll their ankle resulting in a strain or sprain, get stepped on when jockeying for position near the net, or land wrong after a jump shot.  

Prevention is based on adequate support. Perfectly fitted basketball shoes and socks are a must, and you may want to tape up ankles before a game or practice if your child is prone to ankle injuries. 

Treatment for ankle injuries is usually based around R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) plus over the counter painkillers. If your child has seriously injured their ankle, it will usually swell visibly and become discolored, and hold none of their weight. Checking out all ankle injuries is advised.  

Hip and Thigh Injuries

Even though it’s not a high contact sport, hips and thighs can be bruised and battered from collisions with players on court. In addition, the constant strain from pivoting, running, jumping, and rebounding can overextend ligaments and muscles.

Extra stretching of the hips and thighs before a game or practice to loosen everything up will help prevent damage done during play. Your child’s coach should ensure all players are being aware on the court, and that no unnecessary checking causes injury.

Serious hip injuries are rare, but if damage occurs and needs surgical attention, Dr. Strasurger can perform arthroscopic hip surgery to repair damage and restore mobility. 

Knee Injuries

Minor knee injuries such as sprains and strains have the third highest incidence of occurring in basketball. Major injuries are more rare, since basketball isn’t a high contact sport, but it’s still possible to suffer ACL tears from a fast pivot or a patella injury from a fall onto the kneecap.

Specific exercises to strengthen the leg muscles, tendons and ligaments is the best way to prevent knee injuries on the court. Always make sure your child stretches thoroughly before play or practice.

Knee injuries may require physical therapy or even arthroscopic surgery to repair significant damage. You can also use a brace on the advice of your child’s doctor if a knee seems weak or unstable after a minor injury.

Wrist and Hand Injuries

Only around 11% of basketball injuries occur to the upper extremities, but finger jams or even breaks can happen if a ball strikes the wrong way, and wrist sprains and strains are also not completely uncommon. 

Doing hand and wrist exercises, practicing scrupulously, and using wrist bandaging or bracing when needed can help prevent injury . Your child should learn to be spatially aware of where they are holding their hands at any given minute to avoid an injury from the ball or another player. 

Sprains and strains can be iced, dislocations seen by a doctor, and fractures set and splinted. Most major injuries to the hands and wrists come from a bad fall causing a broken wrist or having a hand stepped on, causing fractures. 

Bone breakages can be mended and kids bounce back quickly, so don’t panic if your child is injured. However, most fractures can be avoided if play is strictly monitored (most fractures are caused by contact with another player involving illegal activity during play.).

Dr. Strasburger works with many teams, young athletes, and coaches to ensure safe play and quick response in case of injury. If you have questions about your child playing basketball, feel free to schedule a consultation.

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