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5 Worst Sports Injuries That Affect Athletes


Injuries are an inevitable part of sports. They limit the performance of some of the best athletes and force others to retire. Although some athletes’ careers last until they decide to retire, no one is spared. The impact varies according to the type of injury suffered. In this article, we’ll list the worst sports injuries athletes are at risk of.

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Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear

An explanation of what an ACL tear is. Video Credit: FreeMedEducation

An ACL tear is one of the worst sports injuries. It happens when the femur (which connects the thighbone and your shinbone) sprains or tears. If you suffer an ACL tear, you might hear a pop sound that’ll make it difficult for you to walk and cause swelling of your knee. 

Soccer, basketball and football players are at risk of an ACL tear. These games involve sudden changes of direction, high contact, and jumping, which can lead to this injury. The athletes get back to playing after a year. An ACL tear is treated by surgery, wearing a brace or physical therapy.

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The science behind concussions. Video Credit: TED-ED

Concussion is now one of the most talked about sports injuries. Soccer and football players are more likely to suffer from it due to frequent contact when playing. When a concussion happens, the brain suffers trauma due to a blow. 

These can lead to headaches, dizziness and memory. If it goes untreated, a concussion can be fatal due to the swelling of the brain and bleeding. 

The Brain Injury Research Institute indicates that 10% to 20% of all college and high school players suffer from concussions. In 2023, 149 concussions happened in 271 games in the National Football League (NFL). 

The chief medical officer working with the NFL said the numbers rose due to strict measures put in place to diagnose concussions.

When it comes to deceased NFL players, a study by Boston University established that out of the 91 players they examined, 87 had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

CTE is a degenerative brain condition found in people with repeated brain trauma. This is what makes concussion one of the worst sports injuries. 

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Hamstring Injury

A look into the hamstring injury. Video Credit: Tifo Football

A hamstring injury is caused when a pulling or a complete tear of the hamstring muscles at the back of your thigh happens. This injury is common in sports that involve sprints, like running, football, and soccer. 

The severity depends on the type of strain an athlete suffers. 

  • A Grade 1 tear is mild.
  • A Grade 2 is a partial tear. 
  • A Grade three tear indicates complete damage. 

A hamstring injury happens when these muscles are stretched beyond capacity. 

This can happen when you have weak muscles, tightness and an imbalance. Athletes who suffer from this injury sit out for weeks, or several months, depending on the severity of damage.

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Kevin Ware talking about his injury. Video Credit: CNN

Fractures are some of the worst sports injuries. They can be career-ending, as was the case for Kevin Ware. He suffered a compound fracture on the tibia when playing in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) tournament. He underwent surgery but he never played in the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

This type of injury is caused by overuse, osteoporosis and trauma and exists in two forms: compound and simple. In a compound fracture, the bone pierces through the tissue and forms an open wound, while a simple fracture has no damage to the tissues. 

Fractures are treated in different ways, including rest, physical therapy and the use of medicine.

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Patellar Tendon Tear

Adding to our list of the worst sports injuries is the patellar tendon tear. It’s common in sports that put the knees under a lot of pressure, like basketball, volleyball, and football.

A sudden impact on the knee can cause a tendon rupture or its weakening. Volleyball players are at a high risk of this injury due to frequent jumps, which leads to gradual weakening.

This injury presents itself with a pop in the knee, which can lead to soreness, bruising and swelling. You can reduce the risk of this by using the RICE method – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation after intense practice sessions.

Treatment of sports injuries at the professional level is more advanced, and most athletes have a high chance of recovery. That said, they still dread the thought that they might have to stay out for extended periods during injuries, and those who’ve lost their careers can hope that the next person never experiences what they’ve gone through. 

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