The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the shin bone, working with the muscles at the front of the thigh to extend the knee for kicking, running, and jumping. Repeated stress on the tendon can result in patellar tendinitis, another common overuse injury in basketball. Players with patellar tendinitis complain of pain directly below the kneecap that is exacerbated by running, jumping, and kneeling.
Like Achilles tendinitis, patellar tendonitis can be treated with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. Knee braces that keep the tendon in the proper position can also provide pain relief and support. Additionally, athletes should strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles.
The constant starting, stopping, twisting, turning, and landing motions involved in playing basketball present ample opportunities for knee injuries. In addition to sprains and strains, the knee is vulnerable to more serious injuries such as ACL tears and meniscus tears.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments in the knee connecting the bones of the upper leg to the bones of the lower leg. Basketball players can tear any of the four ligaments, but ACL tears are most common. When the ACL is torn, players generally report a popping sound accompanied by severe pain, swelling, and weakness. ACL injuries typically require surgery to reconstruct the torn ligament, followed by several months of physical therapy to regain strength.
Each knee has two menisci that cushion the space between the bones of the shin and thigh. A meniscus can tear can occur if the knee is rotated too forcefully, particularly if the knee joint is bearing weight when the twisting occurs. Athletes may complain of pain, swelling, and stiffness and might feel like the injured knee is locked in place. Minor meniscus injuries can be treated with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications, but severe tears generally require surgery and physical therapy.
Hopefully this overview of common basketball injuries helps you be an informed participant or spectator this basketball season.
Contact us to learn more about preventing and treating basketball injuries.