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

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When You Turn Your Ankle
The sprained ankle might be the most common injury at all levels of basketball. Jump for a rebound or layup, land on another player’s foot, turn the ankle – it’s more or less inevitable. Most minor ankle sprains will heal nicely on their own. But it might be a good idea to seek treatment, says Dr. Colvin. If you don’t allow a sprain to heal fully and correctly, you’ll risk further or repeated injury.

Also worth noting – there are several degrees of ankle sprain. If you have a lot of swelling or feel like you can’t bear weight on the affected leg, or if you feel numbness or a tingling sensation, see a doctor. Significant swelling and the inability to bear weight can indicate a more severe sprain, while numbness or tingling may mean nerve damage.

Metatarsal Fracture

The same mechanism that can lead to sprained ankles can also cause fractures of the metatarsal bones – most often, the fifth metatarsal, which runs from the mid foot to the base of the small toe. This injury has plagued a number of NBA big men, including Yao Ming and, most recently, the Nets’ Brook Lopez.

This injury feels a lot like a sprained ankle, Dr. Colvin explained, but the pain extends down into the foot and is noticeable because it won’t allow you to bear weight. Pros like Lopez and Yao often opt for surgery to correct metatarsal fractures, but going under the knife isn’t always necessary or even recommended for weekend warriors. Many heal nicely with a cast or similar immobilization.

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