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Orthopedics: Common Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries, Orthopedic Surgeon treats and heals all kinds of injuries, surgery, treatment, healing

With most Americans engaging in some type of sports or physical fitness activity each year, it is important to understand the types of injuries that are most commonly seen in the hospital and emergency department (ED) and which sports account for those injuries.


In 2020, there were 1,855,924 total ED visits. While this number is significantly lower than the previous years, we can assume that the current pandemic played a role in lowering this number.

It’s worth noting that in most cases a popular sport will cause more injuries. Injury data does not show the number of injuries per player; therefore, do not assume that higher ranking sports are more dangerous — they may just be played more frequently and by more people.

Figure 4 is a stacked bar chart illustrating the percentage of discharged emergency department visits by primary type of injury among the 10 most common sports activities.

Team or group sports—such as football, basketball, and soccer—constituted one-third (33.7 percent) of all sports-related ED visits but only 13.5 percent of sports-related inpatient stays. The reverse was true for individual sports—such as bicycle riding and roller skating—and walking and running. Individual sports accounted for 33.8 percent of sports-related inpatient stays but only 20.7 percent of sports-related ED visits. Walking and running constituted 31.2 percent of sports-related inpatient stays but only 17.4 percent of sports-related ED visits.

Most Common Injury

One of the most common injuries in sports is a stress fracture. Overcoming an injury like a stress fracture can be difficult, but it can be done.

Figure 3 is a 2-part pie chart, one part illustrates the percentage of discharged emergency department visits and the other illustrates the percentage of inpatient stays, both broken out by primary type of injury.

A stress fracture is an overuse injury. They often occur when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. They also can be caused by the impact of an unfamiliar surface (a tennis player who has switched surfaces from a soft clay court to a hard court); improper equipment (a runner using worn or less flexible shoes); and increased physical stress (a basketball player who has had a substantial increase in playing time). Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the bone causing a tiny crack called a stress fracture.


Here are some tips developed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to help prevent stress fractures:  

If the activity that caused the stress fracture is resumed too quickly, larger, harder-to-heal stress fractures can develop. Re-injury also could lead to chronic problems where the stress fracture might never heal properly.


The most important treatment is rest. Individuals need to rest from the activity that caused the stress fracture, and engage in a pain-free activity during the six to eight weeks it takes most stress fractures to heal. With advances in surgical techniques, arthroscopy plays an important role in diagnosis and treatment of sports injuries as well. Patients can anticipate a quicker recovery with less post-operative complications following surgery.

Overall, high-quality orthopedic care is invaluable. It helps people, like you, reclaim their quality of life and get back to doing the things they love.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicholson and discuss treatment options in person or via telehealth, please call our office at 404-255-5595.


*Additional information gathered from Chart Data was compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission then aggregated by HealthGrove. 

Lauren Mueller Marketing

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