Basketball injuries are generally defined as either cumulative (overuse) or acute (traumatic) injuries.
Overuse injuries occur over time due to stress on the muscles, joints and soft tissues without proper time for healing. They begin as a small, nagging ache or pain, and can grow into a debilitating injury if they aren’t treated early.
Injuries that fall into this category include:
- Tendonitis – All that jumping, scooping, and bending can be hard on muscles, especially those in the lower calf. The painful condition known as tendonitis can result; it is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the leg muscle to the bone.
- Achilles tendinitis
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Jammed Fingers – Jammed fingers occur when the ball contacts the end of the finger and causes significant swelling of a single joint. Application of ice and buddy taping the finger to the adjacent finger may provide some relief and allow the athlete to return to play. If pain and swelling persist, evaluation by a physician or athletic trainer is recommended and an x-ray of the finger may be needed.
- Knee Injuries – Basketball requires extensive stop and go and cutting maneuvers which can put the ligaments and menisci of the knee at risk. Injury to the medial collateral ligament is most common following a blow to the outside of the knee and can be often be treated with ice, bracing and a gradual return to activity.
- Stress Fractures – Stress fractures can occur from a rapid increase in activity level or training or from overtraining. Stress fractures in basketball most commonly occur in the foot and lower leg (tibia). Once diagnosed, a period of immobilization and non-weight bearing is recommended. Return to play is permitted once the fracture has completely healed and the athlete is pain free.
- Neck pain – Shoulders and arms do a lot of the work, but the neck also gets into the act. Throwing that ball up, pushing it through a basket, looking up, these actions curl the neck into uncomfortable, strenuous positions.
The following safety precautions are recommended to help prevent help basketball injuries:
- Warm up thoroughly prior to play.
- Wear supportive basketball shoes with skid-resistant soles.
- Use protective equipment (mouth guards, knee and elbow pads or eye protection).
- Use good technique and play by the rules.
- Clean of courts before play – check for slippery spots or debris.
- Have a first aide kit on hand.
- Get adequate recovery.
- Stay hydrated.