5 Most Common Sports Injuries

Of all organized sports, basketball, football, soccer, and baseball cause the most injuries. But you’re just as likely to suffer an injury while exercising, cycling, and swimming, and more people are injured on playground equipment and ATVs than playing hockey. The fact is that anyone who’s active is at risk for a sports injury.

No matter what sport you enjoy or the type of injury you sustain, Andrew B. Richardson, MD, offers the comprehensive care you need to alleviate the pain, heal, rehabilitate, and get back into action. Here are five injuries sports medicine specialists frequently treat.

Ankle sprains

You won’t be surprised to learn that ankle sprains are at the top of the sports injury list, especially considering that you can easily sprain your ankle during any activity, even a leisurely stroll.

Though severe sprains are so painful that most people come in for treatment, the same isn’t true for moderate sprains. People tend to ignore ankle sprains, often thinking they can power through until the swelling and pain improve. 

Unfortunately, continuing to use a sprained ankle doesn’t give the damaged ligament time to heal properly, which means it doesn’t regain its normal strength. Without proper treatment, the ankle is prone to future sprains, ongoing instability, ankle pain, and arthritis.

Knee injuries

Knee injuries are nearly as common as sprained ankles. We frequently see patients with dislocated knees, knee fractures, tendon tears, meniscus tears, and runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome).

However, ligament injuries are the most common. Your knee contains four ligaments that are responsible for stabilizing the joint: two collateral ligaments and two cruciate ligaments. The collateral ligaments and the posterior cruciate ligament are usually injured when you take a direct blow to the knee.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is damaged during specific types of movements. You’re most likely to tear the ACL when you participate in sports that require pivoting and cutting, such as soccer, basketball, football, and tennis.

As with all sports injuries, treatment for an ACL tear begins with the most conservative therapies, such as immobilization and physical therapy. But when the ACL is ruptured, your orthopedic surgeon usually needs to reconstruct the ligament so you can regain the full strength you need to stay active in your sport.

Shoulder dislocation

Shoulder dislocations are one of the top injuries in contact and collision sports. Your shoulder has several joints, but the most frequent dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone moves forward and goes out of the socket.

A dislocated shoulder also increases your risk of tearing the rotator cuff, which encompasses the muscles and tendons that hold the arm bone in the shoulder socket and stabilize the joint.

Tennis and golfer’s elbow

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) develop when repetitive movements in your hands, wrists, and forearms place excessive stress on the tendons attached to your elbows. As a result, the tendon becomes inflamed and you develop pain, limited movement, and loss of grip strength. 

Though this sports injury is named after the two activities that often cause the problem, anyone who performs similar movements — such as painters, carpenters, and cooks — can irritate the same tendons.


When you’re involved in athletic activities, you may suffer a stress fracture or an acute fracture. Acute fractures occur due to direct trauma. You may fall, collide with a person or object, or severely twist a limb.

Though you can fracture any bone, athletes often break the bones in their wrists, hands, feet, ankles, and collarbone. The classic signs that you need fracture management include swelling, bruising, pain, inability to use the affected limb, and, in some cases, visible deformity.

Stress fractures occur when a tiny crack develops but the bone stays in place. This type of fracture occurs over time, as you repeatedly perform movements that place a moderate amount of stress on the bone. By comparison, traumatic fractures require a sudden, significant force.

You’re more likely to develop a stress fracture on the weight-bearing bones in your foot and ankle, especially when your sports activity involves running and jumping.

As soon as you experience a sports injury, schedule an appointment with Andrew B. Richardson, MD, to receive early treatment that promotes full healing.

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