5 Common Basketball Injuries (and How to Treat Them)


Basketball is a physically demanding sport.

While it doesn't feature the pure violent contact that a sport such as football or ice hockey does, it's a sport that can be tough on a player's body.

In addition to there being physical contact between two players who are wearing no protective gear, basketball requires a lot of running, jumping, and many quick changes-of-direction.

That’s probably why some of the most common basketball injuries occur to a player's lower body.

Let's take a look at 5 common basketball injuries, and I’ll show you how to treat them AND how to prevent them.

Five Common Basketball Injuries:

1. Hip and Thigh Injuries

Because of all the sharp movement and shifting from side to side, basketball players oftentimes suffer injuries to their hip and thighs.

There is also a lot of extra pressure put on this area of the body from all the jumping that's required, and the subsequent pressure that radiates from the feet to the hips when a player lands on the hard court.

Hip bruises and hip strains are very common injuries that can occur when you overextend your ligaments or muscles.

You can also suffer deep thigh or hip bruises if you make contact with another player's elbow or knee.

The biggest challenge with hip and thigh injuries is that it's very hard to treat them with a procedure or medical device such as a cast or a splint.

The procedures that are done for hip and thigh injuries are major ones, too.

Hip and Thigh Injury Treatment

The best treatment for a hip or thigh injury is the common RICE tactic, where each letter in the word stands for a type of treatment -- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Basically, you just need to stay off your feet, ice down the injured area, put pressure on it, and keep your legs in an elevated position.

This will all help reduce the swelling on the area and eventually alleviate the injury altogether (hopefully).

Hip and Thigh Injury Prevention

The other big challenge with hip and thigh injuries is that they are fairly hard to prevent.

A lot of these injuries are wear-and-tear type injuries, meaning the normal motions of the game wear down the muscles and bones, causing swelling to occur.

And if you suffered a bruise, it's most likely because you caught an elbow or knee of a defender, which can be a fluke.

One thing you can do to help prevent injuries to your hip and thigh is make sure you use the right basketball stretches before practices and games.

You can also have a good weight training program that will build up your muscles and joints.

two men playing basketball outdoors

2. Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are another common type of injury in basketball.

The constant running, jumping/landing and shifting from side to side can do a number on your knees.

One of the more common injuries to the knee in basketball is known as patellofemoral pain syndrome. This is basically pain that is felt behind the kneecap, where the patella meets the femur, or the thigh bone.

It's often caused because of wear and tear that happens to the kneecap, which can become misaligned, which eventually causes excessive pressure on the joint.

Some of the most serious injuries suffered in basketball happen to the knee or knee region. Major ligaments run through the knee, such as the ACL, LCL and PCL.

Injuries to the patellar tendon as well as meniscus can also occur.

Knee Injury Treatment

For the less serious versions of injuries to the knee, the treatment will again consist of the RICE method.

Once the pain and swelling have subsided, then further treatment will be to strengthen and stretch out the area to prevent future injury.

The more serious versions of these injuries, though, can require major medical procedures.

Tears of any of the ligaments or a dislocation of the kneecap can occur, and these all most likely require surgery to re-attach or re-align.

These injuries take quite a while to recover from -- upward of a year or more between recovery, rest, rehab and strengthening.

Knee Injury Prevention

The best way to prevent knee injuries in basketball is to have a stretch routine before and after practices and games.

This will keep your muscles and ligaments nimble and able to withstand the rigors of the sport.

You also can commit to a strengthening routine through weight training.

As for supportive devices, you can wear a knee brace to provide some extra protection and support to the area. These braces can be soft and slide on.

If you've suffered an injury, there are harder, more stable braces, too.

3. Foot and Ankle Injuries

Sticking to the theme of lower-body injuries, basketball can also be a rough sport for foot and ankle injuries.

Perhaps the most common injury to this part of the body are ankle sprains.

They are so common, again, because of the back and forth shifting the sport requires, as well as the jumping and landing.

It is very easy for a basketball player to turn, roll or twist their ankle awkwardly, which can result in either stretching or, in the worst cases, tearing of one of the ligaments that are in your ankle.

A sprained ankle can also range from minor to severe, meaning that the recovery time can be anywhere from a few days to a few months.

Ankle injuries have a tendency to linger as well. It's no surprise why, either, as it's tough to fully heal an ankle injury without completely staying off your feet.

Obviously, that's no easy feat to accomplish.

In addition to ankle sprains or tears of ligaments in the ankle, stress fractures are another basketball injury that's unfortunately common.

These occur most often to either the lower leg or foot, and happen when you either land hard from a jump, or if someone steps and/or falls on your foot or lower leg.

Some of these injuries can be deep bruises, and some can even involve broken bones.

Foot and Ankle Injury Treatment

The less severe type of foot and ankle injuries will often require just the RICE method.

Again, though, that may be easier said than done, as completely staying off your feet and ankles can be a difficult task when you're trying to just live your daily life.

Rest is essential with these injuries, though, so using a pair of crutches to aid you in getting around could be a good idea.

More severe ankle and foot injuries could require surgery -- if ligaments are torn -- or a cast -- if bones are broken.

Foot and Ankle Injury Prevention

It's tough to prevent ankle or foot injuries in basketball, since some of them will simply happen throughout the normal playing time.

Make sure that you have good, supportive shoes, though.

That's one way you can potentially prevent injuries to your ankle -- by having high top shoes that are appropriate for basketball and support your ankle as you move from side to side. 

Shoes that also help prevent you from slipping on indoor basketball courts are also essential.

If you want extra protection, you can also wear an ankle brace to give you that support.

Also, simple taping that can be done by a trainer can also go a long way to help prevent injuries.

4. Wrist and Hand Injuries

Lower-body injuries aren't the only ones that basketball players can suffer.

Players use their hands often, from dribbling the ball, to passing and receiving passes, to shooting on offense.

On defense, players use their hands to defend and try to knock away the ball.

One of the most common injuries to this area of the body is jammed fingers.

This occurs often when players are reaching their hands out to defend and try to swat the ball out of another player's hands. That player may either bump up against him, or swat his hands away, causing the fingers to jam.

A similar thing can occur when reaching out to deflect a pass or block a shot.

Players also often jam their fingers when they are receiving a hard pass, if the ball ends up hitting them on their fingers instead of landing squarely in the palm of their hand.

Sometimes, these finger injuries can be more severe, or happen further up the hand, and could sometimes be a break in one of the bones in the fingers or hand.

Wrists can also jam or strain in a similar way to how fingers do.

Players can sometimes either jam their whole hand, injuring their wrist, if they make hard contact with a player or the ball with their hand, with their palm being the point of contact.

Wrist and Hand Treatment

Jammed fingers and wrists are luckily pretty easy to treat.

Applying ice will help to reduce inflammation and swelling, which is the cause of most of the pain that comes as a result of these injuries.

If you have broken a bone, you may need to take some more time off for the game and/or wear a splint or cast.

Wrist and Hand Prevention

There isn't too much you can do to prevent jammed fingers and wrists except to simply be mindful about where you are and where the defenders and ball are at all times.

When you're extending your arms to deflect a pass or defend, knowing where the ball is at that point will help prevent you from being surprised and, therefore, getting your fingers jammed.

player in blue attempting to score while two players in white foul him during basketball game

5. Face and Head Injuries

Face and head injuries most often occur in basketball as the result of contact with the ball or another player.

There is a lot of contact between shooter and defender at times, especially when the shooter is attempting a shot closer in to the basket.

Defenders will try to block the shot or at least cause it to be unsuccessful, and they will raise their hands and swat at the ball to do so.

When the defenders do this, they can sometimes inadvertently hit another player on the head.

The least severe of these types of injuries that are caused are cuts to the face and to the head.

These can sometimes be simple cuts that can be just cleaned, or they can be more severe, deeper cuts that may require stitches and rest.

The more severe type of head injuries occur when a player hits another player in the head hard with his hand, elbow, or arm.

Head injuries can also occur if a player falls to the ground and either makes contact with the floor or another player's knee.

This can result in a concussion, depending on how hard the contact is.

Face and Head Injury Treatment

Treatment of head injuries can vary from cleaning and bandaging cuts, to stitching up deeper cuts, to extended periods of rest and total inactivity for concussions -- especially the more serious ones.

Face and Head Injury Prevention

It's next to impossible to prevent cuts to your head and face, as they will happen as part of the normal progression of games and practice.

The only way to really prevent them is to try to avoid contact with other players, which is very hard to do.


These are the five most common areas of a basketball player's body that are injured while playing the game.

While injuries are common in the sport, the good news is that most of them are not serious and simply require the RICE method to treat.

There are also solid ways that you can help prevent these types of injuries from occurring.



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