Why Do Basketball Players Have High Rates of Knee Injuries?

Basketball players, and especially women basketball players, have a relatively high rate of knee injuries and anterior cruciate ligament tears. This is because during court-type activities with a hard floor, they can put significant stress on their knee when they are out of balance, which can cause the ACL or other structures within the knee to tear.

Any basketball twisting, turning, or pivoting injury in which an athlete feels a pop is concerning because it may indicate that there is an underlying bone bruise that goes along with an ACL tear. In addition, any basketball injury whereby one has significant swelling develop in a short period of time is also concerning because that may be an ACL tear.

While about 75% of the time when there is knee swelling associated with a basketball injury that there is an ACL tear, there can be also other associated tears of knee ligaments associated with basketball. This can include a kneecap dislocation with a tear of the medial patellofemoral ligament, a MCL tear on the inside part of the knee, which can cause side-to-side instability, or a meniscus tear.

Does a Basketball Player Need an ACL Reconstruction After an ACL Tear?

In most instances, in order to be able to return back to twisting and turning activities, it is recommended that athletes who tear their ACL undergo an ACL reconstruction. This is because the lack of an ACL can cause further twisting and turning problems, which can damage both the cartilage surfaces and the menisci, which are important shock absorbers inside the knee. In particular, a delay of proceeding with an ACL reconstruction has been shown in high-level studies to increase the risk of one developing arthritis further down the road.

Other basketball knee injuries that may require surgery include meniscus tears, kneecap dislocations which do not heal, or other ligament injuries. If there is a contact injury whereby another player collides with you, this can increase the risk of having further damage to the knee and may include other more ominous ligament injuries, such as the PCL, LCL, or other structures around the knee.

When one does have a knee injury where you feel a pop or the knee swells up immediately, one should see a physician to determine the cause of those pathologies. It is important to do this to ensure that one does not have a potentially repairable problem turn into a nonrepairable problem because it is further damaged.

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