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Common Basketball Injuries, and What to Do When They Happen to You

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When Your Knees Hurt
The running and jumping involved in a game of basketball – especially when played on hard outdoor surfaces like concrete and asphalt – can lead to tendinitis in the knees. Patellar tendinitis – inflammation of the band of tissue that connects the kneecap (patella) to the shin – is particularly common among basketball players, and is often referred to as “jumper’s knee.” As with other forms of mild tendinitis, this can usually be treated with rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Preventing “Jumper’s Knee”

Patellar tendinitis is usually brought on by over-use. One of the best ways to prevent it is to cross-train, mixing in lower-impact activities like swimming, biking or working on an elliptical trainer on non-basketball days.

Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint can help prevent jumper’s knee. Dr. Colvin recommends exercises that elongate the quadriceps muscles – “eccentric” quad exercises – as particularly helpful.

Tendinitis and Kids

Younger basketball players often develop patellar tendinitis. But for kids, front-of-knee pain can also indicate a more serious issue relating to the growth plates in the knee joint. “Kids shouldn’t have joint pain,” says Dr. Colvin. Young players feeling the symptoms of knee tendinitis should be checked by a doctor.

Ligament Damage

Sports fans are all familiar with the dreaded three-letter initials associated with more serious knee injuries – ACL, MCL and PCL. Those three – the Anterior Cruciate, Medial Collateral and Posterior Cruciate Ligaments – provide stability to the knee joint.

Damage to those ligaments usually involves some sort of trauma, and will cause great deal of swelling. You may also experience the feeling that your knee will “give out” if you try to put any weight on the affected leg. Obviously, these symptoms require a trip to the doctor.

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