Treatments For Common Basketball Injuries

Treatments For Common Basketball Injuries

Common Basketball Injuries

What are the most common basketball injuries, how can you differentiate each injury, and what forms of treatment are offered? We have a few facts on basketball injuries that were taken by surveying high school basketball players in the United States, by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association:

  • 22% of all male basketball players sustained at least one time-loss injury each year.
  • 42% of the injuries were to the ankle/foot
  • 11% of the injuries were to the hip and thigh
  • 9% of the injuries were to the knee
  • Sprains were the most common type of injury (43%).
  • General trauma was the second most common type of injury (22%).
  • 60% percent of the injuries occurred during practice highlighting the need to warm up and strap for training.
  • 59% of game-related injuries occurred during the second half of the game, which identifies fatigue as a predisposing factor.

Ankle Sprain

This common injury often happens if a player rolls or twists their ankle the wrong way, damaging the ligaments in the joint. An ankle sprain can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months to fully heal, depending on the severity.   Players can prevent this ankle injury by wearing the proper athletic shoes that provide support and will help to avoid slipping on the court. An ankle brace is also a great way for players to support the joint and prevent a sprained ankle. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist about what is best for you.

​Symptoms Treatment​
  • Pain on the overstretched portion of the ankle
  • Swelling
  • Bruising and/or Tenderness
  • Warmth to the touch​
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation (for the first 24 to 48 hours post-injury)​

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis can occur from frequent, high-intensity workouts that cause stress on the feet. Often an overuse injury, players may also experience tendonitis if they are wearing old or overworn athletic shoes. If caught early enough, the injury will take between 4-6 weeks to heal.

Players can prevent this injury by adequately warming up before each workout, icing the area, and slowly increasing the intensity of every workout.

​Symptoms ​Treatment
  • A dull ache or pain in the back of the leg, just below the calf muscle
  • Pain that increases after activity
  • Some diffuse swelling ​
  • Rest & Ice
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Orthotics, taping to prevent further damage, and/or rehabilitation ​

Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis, another overuse injury, is commonly caused by recurrent stress on the patellar tendon. Over time, this causes tiny tears in the tendon, causing the area to become inflamed. If treated properly, this knee injury takes around 6 weeks to heal.

This injury can be prevented by warming up before exercise, wearing a knee brace, and being careful not to jump or land too hard on hard surfaces.

Symptoms​ ​Treatment
  • Pain directly over the patellar tendon
  • Pain with activities, especially kneeling​
  • Pain with jumping
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Stretching of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles
  • Ice treatments, rest, use of support straps or braces​

Muscle Strains

If a muscle is overworked, overstretched, or torn, it could potentially cause a strain. This could occur in a variety of places, including the back, hamstrings, and neck.

This injury can be prevented by taking precautions and practicing proper form and posture. It is important to always stretch and warm-up beforehand.

Symptoms​ Treatment​
  • Sharp pain in the muscle
  • A popping or snapping sound
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration​
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, if necessary ​

ACL Tears

An ACL tear is one of the most painful knee injuries and usually requires surgery. Athletes may tear their ACL from suddenly shifting direction on the court, landing awkwardly on one leg, frequent stress to the knee, or accidentally causing the knee to bend backward. After surgery, an ACL tear can take between 6-9 months to fully heal.

Players can avoid this basketball-related injury by always warming up, stretching, building strength in the hips and thighs, and jumping and landing safely on the court.


  • An audible “pop” at the moment of injury
  • The slippage of the knee out of its joint
  • Severe swelling
  • Painful movement ​

​Treatment: Treatment may be surgical or non-surgical, depending on your desired lifestyle. The question is not so much your level of activity in the past, but the expectations for the future.

  • Surgical: If your goal is to continue an active lifestyle, surgery may be the treatment of choice because a torn ACL does not heal
  • Non-surgical: Therapy consists of a period of protective bracing, with a progressive return to the range of motion and muscle-strengthening exercises. The goal is to create natural stability for the knee by developing the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.

Finger Injuries

Finger injuries are often caused when the ball strikes the hand, jamming or fracturing one or more fingers. Depending on the specific damage to the finger, these injuries can take a few weeks to heal.

Players can prevent this injury by simply being mindful while they are on the court. Being aware of your surroundings is the best way to avoid a finger injury.

Symptoms​ ​Treatment
  • Pain over the injury site, inability to move the finger
  • Bruising, Swelling, and/or Deformity​
  • For non-serious injuries, “buddy tapping” and/or splinting for everyday activities
  • For some finger injuries, surgical repair of the tendons to restore function ​

What can you do?

Just remember, avoiding a basketball-related injury ultimately comes down to being aware of your body, warming up properly, and stretching frequently. Attending physical therapy, or athletic training, are great ways to help keep your body in great condition. You can book an appointment for a basketball injury screening here.

Article Reviewed by Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA

Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA is a practicing physical therapist and a partner and Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network. Deur is board certified as a geriatric clinical specialist and certified exercise expert for aging adults with more than 35 years of clinical experience.  She is certified as an aquatic and oncology rehabilitation specialist and serves as adjunct faculty at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.  

The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.

Share this article!