Basketball is about making baskets but sometimes players – weekend warriors and professionals – score injuries at the same time. While some injuries like jammed fingers come about suddenly during a game, others such as Achilles tendonitis and shoulder problems develop over time. Regardless of how they happen, injuries need to be taken seriously.

It Doesn’t Hurt So Good

If you jam a finger, a physician should determine whether your finger is broken and whether you should use a splint to aid healing.

In the case of Achilles tendonitis, the tendon that connects the muscles of the calf to the heel can become inflamed and swollen. Initially, you should use over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs along with appropriate calf-stretching exercises. However, you should also receive prompt treatment because Achilles tendonitis can put you at risk for a complete tendon tear.

Inflamed shoulder tendons show up in the form of rotator cuff tendonitis, which can be experienced in any sport that requires players to frequently raise their arms over their heads. If you incur an injury, you should rest your shoulder and use ice packs and physical therapy to strengthen the involved muscles.


Sprains are some of the most common basketball injuries. Sprained ankles can happen when jumping players land on another’s feet, causing the ankle to bend unnaturally. When this bending stretches or tears ankle ligaments, the result is a painful, swollen sprain. For a typical sprain, you should rest and elevate your leg and use an ice pack to reduce swelling.

Like sprained ankles, sprained knees are the result of stretched or torn ligaments. Symptoms include pain, swelling and sometimes spasms. As with any typical sprain, you should immobilize the joint for several days and use an ice pack and over-the-counter pain medication.

If you cannot control pain with over-the-counter medication within a few days, you should consult a sports medicine doctor. Some sprains are severe enough that surgery should be considered. You should include appropriate rehabilitation exercises as part of final recovery to discourage re-injury.

Tears of the Meniscus and ACL

In addition to sprains, knees can experience other injuries, including tears to the meniscus, a shock-absorbing buffer between the upper and lower leg bones. Once again, twisting or over-flexing is the cause. When the meniscus is torn, your knee may become unstable. You can wear a special brace to immobilize the knee and aid healing. However, if instability increases, you might need minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery. If you suspect a torn ACL or torn meniscus, you should schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.

Running, pivoting and the impact following a jump can cause another basketball knee injury – a partial or complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which often sounds like a pop. Found in the middle of the knee, the ACL enables the joint to rotate in a stable manner and keeps the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur. In addition to using a splint, ice pack and elevation, you should have a sports medicine doctor evaluate an ACL injury to determine if you need surgery. Although some athletes can live comfortably with an ACL injury, un-repaired ACL tears could lead to arthritis.

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