Playing sports is a great way to get in exercise, whether you’re a professional athlete or simply playing for fun. However, playing sports can also lead to injuries, including some very common sports injuries.

What are sports injuries?

Sports injuries are injuries that occur while a person is engaged in athletic activities. These can range from overuse injuries to acute traumatic injuries, and can happen to athletes of all ages, including young children and retired active athletes.

What are 10 common sports injuries?

Some sports injuries occur more often than others. These include:

  1. Muscle strains
  2. Inflammation of tendons (tendonitis)
  3. Dislocations
  4. Fractures
  5. Concussions
  6. Sprains
  7. Shin splints
  8. Ligament tears
  9. Bursitis
  10. Impingements

Which injuries are often found in certain sports?

While injuries can happen in any setting, some common injuries found in specific sports include:

  • Football players present most commonly with knee and shoulder injuries—MCL and ACL tears, meniscus cartilage injuries, patella and shoulder dislocations, and fractures, as well as shoulder labral tears and acromioclavicular (AC) joint injuries.
  • Runners typically suffer from overuse injuries such as tendonitis, sprains and stress fractures.
  • Soccer and field hockey players frequently come to us with non-contact injuries that are similar to those of football players, especially knee injuries.
  • Basketball players come to us with mostly ankle injuries, but can also experience knee and shoulder injuries.
  • Hockey players can have a lot of shoulder injuries, including dislocation and separation.
  • Golf and tennis players often suffer overuse injuries, including the common golf or tennis elbow.
  • Many athletes, in both contact and non-contact sports, are at risk of concussion.

Are specific injuries more common in certain age groups?

Certain age groups tend to have more injuries in common, though these injuries can happen at any age. Younger children who have not reached skeletal maturity can have growth plate fractures, as the growth plate is typically weaker than some of the surrounding ligaments. Teenagers and young adults tend to have more soft tissue injuries such as ligament strains, meniscal injuries, and labral injuries. Older populations are at higher risk of fractures as bone density declines.

How can athletes avoid injuries?

Many injuries can be prevented. Avoid overusing certain muscle groups to reduce the risk of tendonitis and other inflammation. Stretching before and after an activity helps to keep your muscles and ligaments ready to go. And don’t forget to pace yourself—gradually increase your activity and intensity level.

How are sports injuries treated?

Treatment options for sports injuries can vary depending on the type of injury and its severity. Most basic sports injuries can be treated at home with a combination of rest, ice, elevation, observation, and anti-inflammatory medications. Others can be referred to physical therapy for evaluation and a treatment plan. Some sports injuries do require surgery.

The Sports Medicine team at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute is dedicated to the treatment and prevention of sports injuries. Our goal is to work with patients to return them to their previous activity levels with an emphasis on preventing future injuries.

Ross Budacki, MD

Dr. Ross Budacki is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with the Total Joint Center at Newport Hospital and Lifespan Orthopedics Institute. He specializes in sports medicine.