As the men’s NCAA basketball tournament progresses, we find ourselves on the edge of our seats, hoping for upsets and praying for good competition. It’s no surprise that basketball is one of the most popular sports in the nation, but with the dramatic finishes and amazing comebacks come injury and defeat. It’s just a part of the game.
It’s estimated that more than 1.6 million basketball-related injuries occur each year. Here are some of the most common injuries and how they affect players over the long term:
If basketball was your sport growing up, then you likely experienced plenty of sprained ankles. Ankle sprains are the most common injury in the sport of basketball. A sprain occurs when the foot forcibly rolls outward or inward, causing the ligaments to overstretch or tear. The best medicine is ice and stabilization. If the injury reoccurs, it can worsen the condition of the ligaments, and it may require surgery over time. Without proper treatment, a player could suffer long-term effects such as decreased coordination of the ankle and chronic stiffness.
Sometimes players simply take their eyes off the ball when receiving a pass. An unfortunate repercussion of doing so is a jammed finger. A jam causes significant swelling of the affected joint and can be quite painful. Though it is an injury many basketballers play through, if it’s not properly examined and treated, it can result in arthritis. Timely treatment is crucial.
This is a common overuse injury in which the tendon connecting the muscles in the the calf to the heel causes pain in the back of the leg, just above the heel. The condition causes pain, swelling, weakness and stiffness of the Achilles tendon.
It is a frustrating injury in that it can reoccur if it is not properly rested and treated. Since the Achilles can never really return to its normal state, players with this injury can expect it to reoccur if not properly healed the first time.
Also known as “jumper’s knee,” patellar tendonitis is much like Achilles tendonitis, only it affects the tendon just below the kneecap. This condition results from multiple tears in the tendon that the body simply can’t keep up with repairing. Much like the Achilles injury, without proper treatment, players can expect this to be an ongoing issue.
Although it’s not specific to only basketball, ACL tears are common in basketball players. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the lower and upper leg and holds the kneecap in place. When a player has a traumatic event resulting in a tear to this ligament, not only is it extremely painful, it creates instability throughout the entire leg. It’s generally a season-ending injury and affects cartilage health indefinitely.
These common basketball injuries are, unfortunately, a staple of the sport. Hopefully players who are affected realize the importance of proper treatment to avoid long-term effects after their basketball career ends.