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The Most Common Sports Injuries

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Sports are enjoyable and help keep us fit. Team sports offer an opportunity to build relationships with like-minded friends, and many sports include formal competition. Unfortunately, sports also can result in injures that vary from minor to permanently disabling.

Facts and Figures

The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains, knee injuries, swollen muscles, shin bone pain, Achilles tendon injuries, rotator cuff injuries, fractures, and dislocations. Some sports injuries result from overuse, and concussions also occur in many sports. Injuries can result not only during play, but from training and warming up. Nearly 2 million people are treated in hospitals every year because of sports injuries, and they account for about 20 percent of all emergency room visits.

Differences in Sports

Fingers, ankles, and knees are the most likely candidates for injury in basketball, while concussions, head injuries, and shoulder injuries are typical in cycling. Ankles, knees, and the face take the brunt of injury in baseball and soccer. In football, finger, knee, and shoulder injuries are most common, although concussions are also a problem. Baseball pitchers are prone to overuse injuries in the pitching arm, while runners are prone to overuse injuries in the legs.

Male vs. Female

Skeletal differences such as a wider pelvis, looser ligaments, the effect of hormones, and imbalanced muscle strength all increase women’s risk of sports injury in comparison to men. Females are eight times more likely to injure the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee compared to males. Women are also more likely to suffer mild ankle sprains and stress fractures, particularly in young female athletes. Although men are more likely to play sports such as football, in which the risk of concussion is relatively high, women may be more likely to sustain a concussion because their necks are longer and less muscular, increasing the whiplash effect.

Age Issues

Strains and sprains top the list of sports injuries in patients between the ages of six to 19, with fractures, bruises and scrapes, and concussions following. Thirty-seven percent of all sports-related injuries occur in teens between the ages of 13 and 15. Among teens, some sports are more likely to result in injury regardless of gender. These include football, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, wrestling, volleyball, cheerleading and ice hockey.

Among adults aged 25 to 40, men are most likely to be injured when participating in bicycling, basketball, football, baseball, softball, or soccer. Women in that age group receive most of their injuries from cycling and softball.