Basketball Bumps & Bruises

By Brian M. Torpey, MD, FACS


Now that basketball season is in full swing, it is important to review some of the common injuries sustained by both male and female basketball players during the course of any given season. Injuries, in their order of increasing frequency, include trauma to the ankle, knee, hand, wrist, forearm, head and neck, back, thigh, shoulder, and elbow.

Ankle injuries account for approximately 50% of all reported basketball-related injuries. The most common ankle injury that occurs during basketball activities is the lateral ankle sprain, which typically responds to early aggressive physical therapy. Jumper's knee (pain and swelling in the front of the knee), is another frequently noted basketball injury. This injury typically responds to a stretching and strengthening program.

Other disabling basketball injuries include heel pain, which can result from fasciitis, tendonitis and bursitis, quadriceps or thigh contusions, eye and nose injuries, and knee ligament injuries. Females have a six-fold incidence of ACL-related injuries as a result of basketball participation. These injuries are thought to occur as a result of frequent, sudden acceleration and decelerations, cutting, pivoting and jumping that occurs in close quarters without the benefit of protective padding to exposed body areas.

The use of and implementation of a plyometric-conditioning program, prior to the onset of basketball season, may work to protect basketball players, especially female basketball players, from the onset of associated knee injuries.

In light of these considerations, it is no surprise that basketball is classified as a contact sport!