What are Basketball Injuries?
Basketball is a highly physical sport that can be enjoyed by any age group. It is not without risk, however. Basketball injuries are generally defined as being either acute, chronic or overuse injuries. Injuries to the hand, fingers, wrist, and elbow are common due to frequent contact with the ball, other players, the floor, and the rim. These injuries are most commonly sustained by:
- Short, intermittent bursts of activity in an ever-changing environment
- Quick, unpredictable stops and starts.
- Physical contact frequently, often forcefully
Types of Basketball Injuries
Sprains and repetitive strain injuries are among the most commonly sustained. However, fractures and dislocations are also common. Frequent sometimes unpredictable contact with the ball in addition to forceful physical contact with players, the floor or the rim are the most frequent causes of injury.
Some of the most common types of basketball injuries are:
- De Quervain’s and flexor or extensor tendinitis: chronic overuse of wrist motors.
- Distal radius fracture: fracture of the radius bone of the distal forearm.
- Extensor carpi ulnaris tendinitis: inflammation of the extensor carpi ulnaris tendon on the pinky side of the wrist.
- Mallet finger, fractures, sprains, and dislocations: flexion deformity of the finger caused when the extensor tendon is damaged, broken phalanges and metacarpals, partially and completely torn ligaments with and without joint misalignment.
- Pisiform and hook of hamate fracture: fracture of one of the carpal bones of the wrist.
- Pitcher’s elbow, sprains, cuts: injury or irritation to the inside of the elbow, ligaments, and skin.
- Scaphoid fracture and ligament tears: break of the scaphoid bone of the wrist and ligament disorders.
Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Basketball Injuries
Different basketball injuries have similar symptoms and the affected anatomy may be deformed due to swelling and misalignment. This may result in pain and reduced range of motion.
Common signs and symptoms of basketball injuries include:
- Inner elbow pain
- Forearm pain
- Wrist pain
- Pain while shaking hands
- Limited range of motion
- Weakened grip
- Numbness and tingling
Causes of Basketball Injuries
Acute injuries occur due to sudden force or impact. Falls or stumbles onto fixed structures and players may result in direct damage to ligamentous or bony structures. Overuse injuries typically occur due to repetitive strain injuries and playing with incompletely healed injuries.
These injuries are common in the wrist due to repetitive motion in order to dribble, pass and shoot the ball.
Fingers may receive acute trauma when catching the ball and collisions.
Getting a Diagnosis for Basketball Injuries
Most injuries are easily distinguishable due to swelling, deformity to the region, bruising, or misalignment. X-rays are generally required to determine the severity of injury to bones or ligaments.
If you experience pain following a basketball game, or sudden force while playing, you should seek immediate medical intervention for the best possible prognosis.
Treatment Options for Basketball Injuries
Acute injuries respond well to judicious use of R.I.C.E principles. Patients should always ask a medical professional if their injury could benefit from use of immobilization and duration of R.I.C.E. principles. This method is good for stabilizing acute injuries.
- Rest: Rest the injured area.
- Ice: Cool the area with a cool pack or ice bag to reduce swelling and pain.
- Compression: Proper compression may limit the amount of swelling that can occur.
- Elevate: Elevating the area also helps control swelling by reducing the amount of fluid that accumulates in the affected area.
Most injuries can be treated conservatively but still require medical attention. Injuries involving broken bones, sprains, and dislocations involve splinting the affected region in a position conducive to healing, buddy taping, and brief cold finger packs.
In most cases, splinting or taping is an adequate form of treatment. However, patients may sometimes require surgery to correct fracture-dislocations, misalignments, and high-grade ligament tears. Minimally invasive procedures including arthroscopy are options too.
Surgical intervention may be required if an injury does not respond well to conservative treatments.
Preventing an Injury while Playing Basketball
Ideally, prevention begins with training months before the start of the season to build a base of strength and endurance. Players learn and practice during this period of time proper body mechanics and skills while playing. Warm up and stretch thoroughly prior to playing.
- Avoid overuse injuries with proper rest between practices and games
- Wear supportive basketball shoes with skid-resistant soles.
Prognosis for Basketball Injuries
Most players can make a full return to sport following proper treatment protocols. Often a rehabilitation program begins after the acute phase of recovery. Players whose injuries require surgical intervention may require splinting or casting during recovery.
Physical therapy is recommended for optimal healing and return of strength and mobility.
If You Believe You Have a Basketball Injury Contact HandSport Surgery Institute
Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing basketball injuries should be evaluated to optimize performance the to reduce the possibility of further injury and mobility issues.
If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and begin recovery after your hand, wrist, or elbow injury.