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Tips Before Tip-Off: Properly Treating a Basketball Injury Can Keep Players in the Game

With basketball season tipping off, many players will suffer injuries in addition to scoring points. Treating an injury properly can shorten the length of time a player spends on the sidelines and decrease the risk of permanent damage.

Common Injuries

The most frequent injury in basketball is a sprained or “jammed” finger, which occurs when a finger is bent unnaturally. In addition, sprained ankles, knee and shoulder injuries are common basketball problems.

Athletes can do exercises to prevent some injuries. For example, jumping rope can help strengthen the ankles. In addition, wearing proper gear is important. High-top shoes provide basketball players ankle support.

An easy way to remember how to initially treat an acute injury is the P.R.I.C.E. acronym. Although no two injuries are the same, his method is a good approach to get an athlete on the road to recovery.

P.R.I.C.E. After any sudden or acute sports injury, it may be helpful to remember to P.R.I.C.E. That stands for Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.

Protect: The injured area should be protected with a splint, brace or crutches.

Rest: The player should rest the injured area.

Basically, the athlete should not do any activity that hurts. Runners can still ride a bicycle or swim. You don't have to stop all activity – just those actions that cause pain.

Ice: Cool the area with a cool pack or ice bag to prevent swelling and pain.

Ice acts as an analgesic, even after being removed from the injury. Initially, you can ice the injury once an hour for 15 minutes and decrease the ice-intervals as time goes by. Treat ice like any other pain reliever – take it in small doses through the day.

In addition, ice can control swelling, which is key to treating these injuries. Swelling, not tissue damage, is what can determine the rate of recovery after an injury.

Swelling is the enemy. What you do to slow swelling in the first few days affects range of motion, strength and pain. You can cut healing time significantly by controlling swelling.

Compression: Wrapping the area with an Ace wrap or bandage physically limits the amount of swelling that can occur.

Elevate: Elevating the area also helps control swelling by using gravity to limit and reduce the amount of fluid that goes to the affected area.

When to See Your Sports Medicine Doctor

A general rule of thumb regarding when an athlete should see a sports medicine doctor about minor injuries is to let pain be your guide. When an injury hurts more than you think it should, see a doctor. After treating an injury properly using P.R.I.C.E, you would expect to see the injury improve, but if pain persists in a joint for more than a week, then visit a doctor. In addition, if tissue pain (such as a muscle pull) lasts longer than two weeks, see a doctor.

Injury is an inherent part of basketball – or any other sport. Proper treatment can help ensure that a player enjoys the game without being forced to sit it out due to a painful injury.

Learn more about how to avoid sports injuries.