The Strain (and Sprain) of March Madness

More than half of aspiring basketball athletes experience orthopedic injuries

Michael Sen, DC

March Madness is finally here and with it comes the thrill and the strain (or sprain, but we’ll get to that) – incredible wins and bracket-busting defeats. But the real “strain” I am referring to here has to do with orthopedic pain and injury. While many of us will be watching these young collegiate athletes representing their schools and competing for one of the most prestigious titles in college sports, younger kids will be working towards their goals on becoming one of those elite athletes. According to a study by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), sprains and strains account for 57% of the injuries seen in high school basketball.

It is very common to see basketball players of all ages encounter some sort of sprain injury. A sprain is defined as is a partial or complete tear of a ligament. These includes sprain of the ankle, foot, hip, knee, low back and neck. The most common injury seen in basketball is an inversion sprain of the ankle. This is when the player’s foot lands on the lateral (outer portion) side of the foot and he “rolls his ankle.” Inversion ankle injuries affect three common ligaments – the posterior talofibular ligament, anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament. Besides pain, some common signs and symptoms of a sprain include stiffness and decreased range of motion in the ankle joint, bruising and the inability to bear weight on the affected foot or ankle.

A muscle strain is another common injury seen in many types of athletics. A strain is defined as an over-stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon. The most common strains seen in basketball athletes are those of the hamstring, calf, low back and neck. These injuries are due to tight muscles or muscles that have not been properly stretched before the player takes the court. The signs and symptoms seen in strains include pain with muscle activation, immobility, muscle weakness and swelling.

Treatment time for sprains and strains largely depends on the severity of the injury. A complete tear of any ligaments, tendon or muscle ill require surgical consultation and intervention while a less severe injury may only necessitate home treatment or treatment from a chiropractor or physical therapist.

At The Brain and Spine Institute (BASIC) we have multiple providers that can treat a wide variety of sport injuries in basketball athletes and many other player types. Our chiropractor will provide patient education about the severity of the sprain or strain injury, work with the patient to develop a treatment plan, and in some cases provide beneficial spinal manipulation due to body compensation of the injury. Our physical therapist will provide rehabilitation treatment to mobilize, stabilize and strengthen the injury. BASIC’s multidisciplinary team approach to patient care ensures that every physician works alongside each other to provide superior individual care. So if the March Madness for you has more to do with a strain or strain and less to do with a basketball bracket, get the care you need to get back on the court again in no time.