Patient holds up a basketball.

Feb 08, 2016 / Sports Medicine

Don’t Let a Basketball Injury Slow Down Your Young Athlete – Sports Medicine

Hand injuries are common in youth basketball. Some studies suggest there are as many as 7-10 injuries per 1,000 practices or games. Christine Ho, M.D., Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children pediatric orthopedic hand surgeon, offers some insight.

Dr. Ho sees hand injuries in all ages and all skill levels of basketball players. In some cases, it is a jammed finger, in others, a dislocation or even a torn tendon.

In young athletes, bones are still growing, and injuries to the growth plates need special attention in surgical and nonsurgical care of hand injuries. With proper recognition and treatment from the beginning, long-term problems can be avoided.

Whether the injury happens when receiving a pass or grabbing the rim, Dr. Ho offers this advice:

  • Any deformity should be evaluated soon after the injury; waiting more than a few days can increase the chance of needing surgery.
  • Swelling, pain or difficulty moving that lasts more than 2-3 days should be evaluated by a medical provider and with an X-ray.
  • X-rays are designed to show broken bones, but they may miss a problem with the soft tissues in the hand. There can be torn ligaments or tendons that will not be seen on X-rays and additional imaging may be recommended, depending on the physical exam.
Basketball Injury Prevention Tip from Dr. Ho

Though it may look cool, do not hang on the rim. The weight of an athlete's body on the relatively weak tendons of the hand can cause a serious injury, a tendon avulsion, where the muscle's tendon detaches from the fingertip. Surgery is needed to repair the tendon as soon as possible. After several weeks, it may not be possible to repair the tendon without more complex surgery.

Learn more about injury prevention and pediatric sports medicine and orthopedic conditions.

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