Common Basketball Knee Injuries

It is a tale as old as time. A player lands awkwardly from a jump or twists too aggressively during a pivot and ends up on the bench with an injury for a day, a week, or even an entire season. Basketball injuries are anything but uncommon. In fact, knee injuries have the third highest incident occurrence in basketball with the most common injuries being sprains/strains, Jumper’s Knee, meniscal tears, and ligament tears. Fortunately, being aware of common basketball knee injuries and ways to prevent or recover from them is a great step to having a healthy basketball season.

Knee Sprain versus Strain

Despite sounding the same, knee sprains and knee strains are two different injuries caused by similar instances like overexerting the joints and soft tissue around the knee or overusing the muscles. The difference depends on whether the ligaments in the knee or tendons in the knee are injured.

A ligament is made up of fibrous tissue that join the bones in the knee together. When these tissues are stretched too far,  a knee sprain occurs. On the other hand, a strain occurs when a tendon, or the fibrous tissue cords that attach muscles to bones, is injured.

Despite these differences, knee sprains and knee strains both result in pain and tenderness in the knee bruising, swelling, or stiffness in the knee, instability with walking, and a popping noise when the strain or sprain occurs.

Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s Knee, or Patellar Tendonitis, occurs most often among athletes who frequently jump. Since basketball players jump to tip off, rebound, and shoot, they are especially susceptible to Jumper’s Knee. Due to the inflammation of the patellar tendon, those suffering from Jumper’s Knee often feel pain and tenderness around the tendon, swelling, pain when running, jumping, or walking, pain when bending or straightening the leg, and tenderness behind the lower part of the knee cap.

Meniscal Tears

When it comes to basketball, meniscal tears linger around every pivot and play. The meniscus is a rubbery piece of cartilage that acts as a shock absorber in the knee. If a basketball player twists awkwardly during a game or practice, the meniscus has a chance of tearing. Meniscal tears are often accompanied with a popping sensation, stiffness, swelling, pain when rotating the knee, difficulty straightening the knee, and feeling like the knee is locked when trying to move it.

Ligament Tears

Ligament tears like anterior cruciate ligament tears (ACL) are some of the most common injuries in sports, including basketball. Since the ACL connects and stabilizes the bones of the knee joint, sudden stops, incorrect landings, and sudden changes in direction can cause the ligament to tear or sprain. Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears are possible as well. Similar to the ACL, the PCL connects and stabilizes the bones in the knee joint. However, PCL injuries usually stem from a direct blow to the front of the knee or from hyperextension and twisting. Even though PCL tears are less common than ACL tears, they are still a risk to players on the court.

Prevention and Recovery

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When it comes to having a healthy basketball season, preventing common knee injuries is the best route to take. One way to do this is to make sure that the knee is stabilized and protected without taking away range of motion. For example, the Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support is a breathable, washable knee brace that protects the knee against knee sprains and strains, knee swelling, tendinitis of the knee, Jumper’s Knee, Runner’s Knee, and alleviates the effects of overuse and high impact activity. Adding exercises that strengthen the knee will also help reduce painful knee injuries.

For those who are currently suffering from mild knee injuries like knee sprains, strains and Jumper’s Knee, the widely-accepted R.I.C.E Therapy is a great first post-injury step. R.I.C.E. is also acceptable for minor meniscal tears. However, for more intense tears and injuries, consider adding one of the Bauerfeind medical knee braces to your recovery routine. Stabilizing, soothing, and comfortable, the Bauerfeind medical knee brace line will help encourage healing and help basketball players get back on the court sooner.