Sports Injury Dictionary

Just what is turf toe or a rotator cuff? If it can be injured, you’ll find information about it here. Explore InjuReplay’s ever-growing Sports Injury Dictionary and quick-hitting FAQs where you can find information about sports injuries, common treatments associated with the injury and the estimated time to replay. From diving to football, from head to toe, we’ve got it covered.

Achilles Tendonitis

This  inflammation of the tendon can cause pain, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling along the back of the leg near the heel. The Achilles tendon connects the heel bone to the calf muscles and is used to jump, walk, and run. Overuse and degeneration is the cause of Achilles tendonitis.


The anterior cruciate ligament inside the knee joint, keeps the lower leg from extending too far and keeps the knee stable. ACL tears most often occur without contact when an athlete makes a sudden stop or change in direction.

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that hold the ankle bones in place are stretched or torn. That awkward landing on the hardwood, the roll of the foot on the tennis court or twisting a foot on uneven turf can push the ligament beyond its normal range of motion and cause the sprain. The most common ankle sprain occurs on the outside of the foot and is called an inversion sprain or a lateral ligament sprain. High ankle sprains happen when ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula (the lower leg bones) are torn or stretched.

Athlete's Foot

This is a fungal infection that affects the areas between toes and other parts of the foot. Microscopic organisms that are mold-like fungi called dermatophyes cause it. Dermatophyes live on skin and are harmless when their growth rate is consistent and when the skin is clean and dry. However, they grow rapidly when skin is warm and moist. Tight shoes, damp socks and plastic shoes are favorable for growth of the organisms. Athlete’s foot is contagious by contact with the infected area or contaminated surfaces.

Avascular Necrosis

This term also refers to Osteonecrosis, which occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to an area resulting in the death of a bone.  If this condition is not treated, the bone can eventually collapse and the joint will deteriorate. It is most common in the hip and shoulder, but any large joint can be effected.  A break, dislocation, or disease can cause avascular necrosis, but sometimes it occurs without an apparent underlying cause. There are no initial symptoms, but athletes will  eventually experience pain and limited range of motion.


Blisters are a formation of water under the epidermis (top layer of skin) and look like bubbles. They develop with friction, pressure, or burns. Common causes are wearing shoes that don’t fit properly and not wearing gloves when using a hammer or shovel.

Bone Bruise

When force damages the central cavity of the bone it is called a bone bruise.  A bone bruise is more painful and lasts longer than bruises to skin or muscle.  Bone bruises are by caused by a forceful blow to the bone itself.  Symptoms include pain, bruising and swelling.

Boxer’s Fracture

This is a break in the neck of one of the five metacarpal bones. Metacarpal bones join the bones in the finger to those in the wrist. The most common cause for this injury is punching something with a closed fist. Symptoms include pain, bruising, swelling, and pain with movement.


A burner, also known as a stinger, causes sudden pain extending from the neck through the arm and into the fingertips. It is a common injury in contact sports and occurs when a network of nerves at the top of the spinal cord called the brachial plexus is compressed. Recurrent or persistent burners can be serious. 

Also see Stinger.


This is inflammation of a bursae, which are pads of fluid that protect and cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near joints. Bursitis is common near joints that participate in repetitive motion, such as the shoulder or elbow. The main symptom of this condition is pain with pressure or movement. For hip bursitis, pain results when the individual lays on the affected hip in bed.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage at the base of the hand that protects tendons and nerves. Pressure on this nerve can result in carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome can result from overuse and athletes who repetitively grip equipment including tennis players, golfers, weight lifters and archers are susceptible to this condition.

Symptoms include pain in the wrist and hand. Athletes may notice a weak grasp or numbness or tingling particularly in the middle finger, and portions of the index and fourth fingers too. Loss of strength and the inability to grip objects may also occur. Symptoms may first appear at night and later become more constant.

Rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications may relieve symptoms. A brace to immobilize the wrist may also help. Rehab and prevention include exercises to strengthen the wrist and forearm, and increase grip strength.

Chodromalacia Patella

Damage to the cartilage under the kneecap is referred to as chodromalacia patella. A blow to the kneecap, repetitive motion, muscle strength imbalance, and misalignment of the patella can cause this condition. The cartilage is damaged by improper alignment of the patella as it moves over the end of the femur, or thigh bone. Athletes with knock knees or flat feet can be predisposed to chodromalacia patella.

Symptoms include knee pain that gradually grows worse over time. The pain may increase when squatting or climbing stairs. Athletes may also experience swelling and hear a clicking or grinding sound when they bend their knee.

Treatment begins with RICE — rest, ice, compression. Stretching and exercising the quadriceps and hamstrings to correct muscle imbalance is essential. Knee braces, taping or straps can help reduce pain. With proper exercise and preventative measures, the athlete should recover quickly.

Clavicle Fracture

This is a broken collarbone that is caused by direct impact to the shoulder.  The break usually occurs in the middle of the clavicle. A clavicle fracture can be the result of a fall onto the shoulder or impact  injury. Symptoms include bruising, swelling, tenderness, a sagging shoulder, lack of range of motion in the arm, and pain.

Coccyx Contusion

This is a bruise overlying the tailbone. This injury happens when from a hard fall on the tailbone. Symptoms include swelling, bruising, tenderness, and a hesitation to sit down because of pain or discomfort.


A concussion is caused when a blow to the head or body shakes the brain inside the skull. A concussion is considered a traumatic brain injury and may temporarily interfere with brain function including memory, balance, alertness and reflexes. Please see our video, Injury Minute: Concussion.


Rowers, weight lifters and other athletes who repetitively work their chest muscles may be prone to costochondritis, an inflammation in the cartilage that connects a rib to the sternum. An injury to the chest can also cause costochondritis.

Symptoms of costochondritis include pain on the left side of the sternum that is made worse by activity, taking a deep breath, or coughing. Pain may radiate to the shoulders and arms. The area impacted may also be tender to the touch and some redness or swelling may be noticed. Athletes with any of these symptoms should seek immediate diagnosis to rule out serious conditions that can cause similar chest pain.

Rest, over-the-counter medication, and applying heat can help decrease inflammation. Most symptoms subside in three to six weeks.

Deep Thigh Bruise

A deep thigh bruise, or thigh contusion, is an injury to the soft tissue in the upper leg. Deep bruises can range in severity. It is caused by direct impact to the thigh or from falling. Symptoms include swelling, muscle tightness, and pain.

Dislocated Ankle

This occurs when the talus (ankle bone) moves out of is usual location under the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones). An ankle dislocation is caused by powerful direct impact or by a significant twisting of the joint.   Fractures are often associated with ankle dislocations.

Dislocated Finger

A finger dislocation happens when the bones of the finger are pushed out of their normal position. Dislocated fingers are common sports injuries and occur when the finger is jammed or forcibly overextended.

Dislocated Hip

A hip dislocation occurs when the femur (head of the thighbone) comes out of the socket in the pelvis. This is caused by injuries such impact injuries or by falling. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and the inability to move the leg. In some cases, this injury can lead to avascular necrosis.

Dislocated Shoulder

This occurs when the humerus (top of the arm bone) is no longer in contact with the scapula (shoulder blade). This is caused by an injury to the glenohumeral joint, which is between the humerus and scapula. The glenohumeral joint allows a wide range of movement, but is not extremely stable which causes dislocation. Shoulder dislocations can happen when an athlete falls or is hit on the shoulder or arm, or when the arm is wrenched.

Dislocated Patella

The patella is the bone that covers the knee and a dislocation can occur when there is an abrupt change in direction while the leg is planted. Symptoms include the visual distortion of the leg, the inability to straighten the leg, pain, tenderness, and swelling.

Elbow Bursitis

Elbow bursitis results when fluid collects in the olecranon bursa behind the elbow. This condition is sometimes called olecranon bursitis. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that allows skin, muscles or tendons to glide smoothly over bone.

An injury to the elbow or repeated pressure on the elbow from resting it on a hard surface may cause elbow bursitis. Symptoms including swelling over the elbow, pain in the back of the elbow, and limited range of motion. The elbow may be very tender and it may be painful if it is bumped or touches a surface.

In many cases, elbow bursitis goes away on its own. A doctor may drain the bursa through aspiration to speed recovery. An athlete with chronic elbow bursitis may need a period of rest to help relieve the inflammation. Surgery is sometimes required to remove a thickened bursa.

Fractured Clavicle/Collar Bone

The collar bone (or clavicle) is one of the most commonly fractured bones in the body. This bone connects the breastbone (sternum) to the shoulder blade (scapula) and can be fractured by falling on the shoulder or by a direct blow to the clavicle itself.

Fracture of the Hook of the Hamate

The hook of the hamate bone is part of the outer structure of the wrist near the palm. It has a wedge shape with a distinct hook-shaped projection. Fractures of the hook of the hamate are more common in sports involving bats or rackets. The force of impact can radiate through a bat or racket an athlete is gripping and result in a fracture to the hook of the hamate.

Athletes who have fractured this bone may experience pain or numbness in the ring and index fingers and have difficulty gripping objects. Throwing and swinging motions may make the pain worse. Swelling in the palm and wrist can also occur.

A scan or x-ray will confirm a fracture. Treatment generally includes immobilizing the wrists with a brace or cast for three to six weeks. If a fracture of the hook of the hamate goes undiagnosed and treated, the bone may heal improperly. Surgery may be required to remove the damaged bone completely. Recovery following this surgery is three to four weeks.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder joint experiences stiffness and pain. It is caused when the capsule of connective tissue around the bones, ligaments, and tendons that make up the shoulder joint thickens. The connective tissue also pulls closely around the should joint. The combination of the tightening and thickening of the connective tissues limits the mobilization of the shoulder.

Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst is a swelling that appears on top of a joint or tendon in the hand or wrists. The cyst may change size and shape, or disappear without treatment. The cause of ganglion cyst is unknown, though they may be related to joint damage or mechanical strain.

Ganglion cyst can appear in the wrists, on the palm at the base of the fingers or near the finger joints on the back of the hand. If the cyst does not cause pain or interfere with athletic performance, treatment may not be necessary.

Some athletes may experience intermittent mild to severe pain with a ganglion cyst. Treatment for a cyst that causes pain or interferes with activity may include splinting or aspiration. Some cases may require surgery to remove the cyst. Many athletes continue to play with a ganglion cyst.

Glenoid Labrum Injury

Lifting heavy weights, falling on an outstretched arm, or repetitive motion can cause glenoid labrum injury. The glenoid is the socket joint of the shoulder. The supporting structure around it is called the labrum. Athletes who use a throwing motion and weight lifters may be more susceptible to tears in this ring of tissue.

Symptoms or a glenoid labrum injury include pain when the arm is lifted overhead, decreased range of motion, instability or loss strength in the shoulder, and a catching or popping in the joint. The injury can occur in either at the top or bottom of the glenoid socket. X-rays can confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for glenoid labrum injury includes rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. Rehab will include strengthening the rotator cuff. Arthroscopic surgery may be necessary to repair large tears.

Recovery from glenoid labrum injury that does not require surgery can take three to four weeks. After surgery, recovery may take three to four months.

Golfer's Elbow

Golfer’s elbow is often caused by repetitive hand, forearm, or wrist motions. Golfer’s elbow affects the inner tendon of the elbow.  Symptoms include pain, tenderness, stiffness, weakness, and numbing.

See also Lateral Epicondylitis.

Groin Pull

The muscles in the groin are six separate muscles that comprise the "abductor group" that pulls the legs together and are involved with hip movements. A groin pull is a strain to this group of muscles that happens when the muscles are stretched too far or even tear.

Hamstring Pull

The hamstrings are the large muscles at the back of the thigh that bend the knee and extend the hip. A hamstring pull involves a small tear, or strain, in one or more of these muscles. The hamstring pulls occurs when the muscle fibers are abruptly stretched.

Heat Exhaustion/Exertional Heat Illness

Heat exhaustion can occur when athletes engage in strenuous physical activity in high temperatures. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, cramps and a rapid pulse. If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.

Heel Contusion (Bruise)

A heel contusion can occur from traumatic impact to the foot or repetitive contact. The calcaneus, or heel bone, is often the first part of the foot to contact the ground when an athlete leaps, walks or runs. A bruise in this area can be very painful and take an athlete out of action.

The first symptom of a heel contusion is often pain when putting weight on the foot. An athlete may also notice swelling.  A doctor may x-ray the heel to rule out a stress fracture.

Long jumpers and triple jumpers, basketball and volleyball players, and distance runners may be prone to heel contusions. Shoes with poor shock absorption or going barefoot can increase the risk of heel contusions.

Heel contusions are treated with RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation. Walking boots or crutches are often used to keep weight off of the injured heel. When the pain subsides, the athlete can return to action. A heel insert may help prevent contusions.

High Ankle Sprain

A high ankle sprain is a stretch or tear in the ligament above the ankle that join the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula). This ligament is called the syndesmosis and is often injured with the foot is turned to the outside.

Hip Pointer

When trauma or impact causes a deep bruise to the hip, it is called a hip pointer. A hip pointer involves the bruising of both the hip bone and the surrounding muscle and takes longer to heal than regular muscle bruises.

Hyperextended Elbow

This injury occurs when the elbow is bent too far backwards causing bruising to the upper arm bone (humerus) or the bony tip of the elbow (the olecranon) and damage to the soft tissue surrounding the elbow joint.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band)

The iliotibial band, or IT band, is the ligament that runs down the outside of thigh from the hip to the shin. The IT band attaches to the knee and helps keep the joint stable. IT band syndrome is a common overuse injury among runners. When the ligament becomes tight or inflamed, flexing the knee becomes painful.

The primary symptom of IT band syndrome is pain on the outside of the knee. Many athletes with IT band syndrome think they have a knee injury. An MRI can confirm the diagnosis. Running too many miles, running down inclines, running on hard surfaces, or running too many laps in the same direction can cause inflammation in the IT band. Worn footwear can increase the inflammation and pain.

Rest is the best treatment for IT band syndrome. Replace running with cross training activities like cycling or swimming for a time. Proper stretching and warm up are the best ways to avoid IT band syndrome. Immediate rest can help prevent chronic problems and get the athlete back in action in days or weeks instead of months.

Impingement Syndrome of the Shoulder

Pitchers, tennis players, quarterbacks, and swimmers may develop shoulder pain due to impingement syndrome. The repetitive overhead motion used by these athletes may result in a compression or grinding in the shoulder joint.

Impingement syndrome is characterized by a sharp pain when an athlete reaches or throws. The pain begins when the arm is lifted to shoulder height. As the condition progresses, pain may be felt any time the arm is raised. Depending on which parts of the shoulder are involved, the athlete may experience tenderness or weakness.

If left untreated, impingement syndrome can lead to tendinitis or a rotator cuff tear. Icing the shoulder can help decrease inflammation. Exercises and stretching to increase strength and stability in the shoulder can help prevent this condition. Recovery from Stage 1 impingement syndrome may take one to two weeks.

Jammed Finger

Direct impact on the tip of the finger can cause a sprain of the joint capsule. A jammed finger can result in a fracture, dislocation, or tendon or ligament damage.  Jammed fingers are common in sports that involve throwing, catching or pushing a ball. Symptoms include swelling, pain, and lack of range of motion.

Jogger's Nipple

Jogger’s nipple is a common complaint for athletes, and occurs when the sensitive skin of the nipple is chaffed or irritated from rubbing against the shirt or jersey during activity. Soreness, inflammation and even bleeding can result. This condition is most common among long-distance runners.

Athletes can prevent jogger’s nipple by carefully selecting the type of clothing they wear. Chose a loose shirt made of a fabric that wicks perspiration away from the skin. Tape, bandages or pads placed over the nipples can also prevent irritation. Using a cream or glide can also help reduce friction.

If the nipples have become irritated, treat with a cream containing lanoline. If the nipples are cracked or bleeding, treat with an antibiotic ointment.

Jumper's Knee

Jumper’s knee is caused by the repetitive stress placed on the tendons around the knee during jumping. Jumper’s knee is also known as patellar tendonitis or patellar teninopathy. Athletes participating in basketball, volleyball, high jumping, long or triple jumping, or gymnastics, are susceptible to this injury.

Athletes may at first experience pain only during activity. Without rest and strengthening, the pain can become more constant and the knee can feel stiff. The athlete may also notice weakness in the leg or calf muscle. If left untreated, a complete tear in the tendon can result and require surgical repair.

Treatment in the early stages includes rest, icing, stretching and strengthening. Proper stretching is the most effective preventive measure for jumper’s knee. Most athletes have a good prognosis of returning to full performance if they address jumper’s knee early.

Also see Patellar Tendonitis.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, or stress fractures, happen when parts of the body are overused and muscles can become fatigued and cannot continue to absorb shock. The shock is transferred to the bone and causes the crack known as a stress fracture. Increasing intensity too quickly, the impact of hard surfaces and improper equipment all can contribute to stress fractures.


Pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot (the metatarsal) is referred to as metatarsalgia. High-impact activities that involve lots of running or jumping can cause this condition. Poor footwear can aggravate the problem.

Metatarsalgia is sometimes called stone bruise because it can feel like you have a stone in your shoe. Athletes may notice pain in one or two toes or across the entire ball of the foot. The pain increases when weight is placed on the foot and may be worse when walking barefoot. Some athletes report a tingling sensation or shooting pain in the toes.

Treatment includes RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation, and over-the-counter medications to help reduce pain and swelling. Steroid injections may help relieve symptoms. Surgery can help if the condition is caused by or aggravated by underlying foot problems.

Proper footwear and orthotics, including arch supports and metatarsal pads, can help athletes prevent metatarsalgia.


This infectious disease is sometimes called the "kissing disease" because it spreads through saliva, most commonly among adolescents and young adults. Symptoms include high fever, fatigue and weakness. Mono can also cause the spleen to enlarge which can put an athlete at risk for a splenic rupture if a direct blow to the abdomen occurs. Clearance to return to play is essential for an athlete with mono. Fatigue and weakness can linger for two or three months and a return to activity too soon can cause a relapse.

Muscle Cramps

A cramp is a sudden, involuntary contraction in one or more muscles. Cramps can be caused by a nerve malfunction, dehydration or depletion of minerals in the body or straining and overuse. Cramps generally can be relieved with massage and stretching.

Nasal Bone Fracture

This can be a crack in the bone or cartilage in the nose. A direct blow to the nose can cause a fracture. Blood can collect on the nasal septum and lead to difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include swelling inside and outside the nose as well as bruises around the eyes.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease

This disease can develop on its own or from overuse of the quadriceps muscles that meet just above the knee.  The  first symptom is often a painful lump that forms just below the kneecap.  Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs most often in children and teens who participate in sports that put a lot of pressure on the knee joint while their bones are still growing.  The condition usually resolves on its own when the bones quit growing.

Osteitis Pubis

Osteitis pubis is inflammation in the symphysis pubis, the joint between the two major pelvic bones. Athletes who participate in soccer, football and hockey, or who have had a pelvic injury may experience osteitis pubis.

Pain in the front of the pelvis is the most common symptom. Osteitis pubis may be misdiagnosed as a groin strain. Secondary symptoms can include weakness and limping. Pain may worsen when the athlete kicks or pivots.

Treatment begins with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. A groin strap brace can provide added support to the symphysis pubis. Rehab may include physiotherapy and exercise to strengthen muscles. Complete recovery can take three months or longer. Women usually take longer to recover from osteitis pubis.

Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis is also referred to as jumper’s knee because it is caused by overuse, particularly from spots that involve jumping like basketball and volleyball. This causes the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to the shin bone, and surrounding tissues to become irritated and inflamed.  The main symptoms is pain.

Also see Jumper's Knee.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Petellofemoral pain syndrome refers to pain in the front of the knee that generally develops gradually. It is such a common problem for runners that it is often called runner’s knee.

Athletes who have this condition will have soreness at the front of the knee and around the patella, or kneecap. The knee may swell after a workout and some athletes report a clicking sound when they bend their knee. The pain may increase when walking on inclines or after sitting for long periods of time.

Common causes of patellofemoral pain syndrome include overuse and overpronation. Muscle tightness or weakness can also cause this condition, and athletes recovering from knee injuries may be prone to developing patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Treatment includes RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation. Wearing a knee brace can help keep the patella aligned and tracking correctly. Strengthening the quadriceps and muscles on the inside of the knee can also prevent pain. Proper shoes and orthotics may also help.


The posterior cruciate ligament helps keep the knee joint stable by preventing the shin bone (tibia) from extending too far backwards. PCL injury occurs when the knee is bent and a forceful blow forces the shin bone backwards, or when an athlete falls directly on the front of the knee.

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle, a small muscle located in the buttocks, can spasm and irritate the sciatic nerve causing piriformis syndrome. Athletes with this condition may experience pain, or numbness down the back of the leg to the foot.

Piriformis syndrome may result after an injury that causes tightening or swelling in the piriformis muscle, or from overuse or repetitive strain. Muscle weakness or imbalance, lack of hip flexibility, and improper warm up can make athletes more susceptible to piriformis syndrome.

Symptoms can range from dull pain in the buttocks to pain while climbing stairs or after sitting for a long period of time. Athletes may also experience a decreased range of motion.

Treatment includes resting from activities that cause pain, massage and stretching. Recovery generally takes days to a few weeks.

Plantar Fasciitis

This injury is the most common cause of heel pain and effects the flat band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that connects the heel to the toes. This band of muscles can become inflamed from overuse and cause a stabbing pain in the heel that is often felt in the morning. This may or may not be associated with a small bone spur.

Popliteal (Baker's) Cyst

A popliteal cyst, or baker’s cyst, is a soft bump that develops behind the knee. The cyst is usually painless. The benign cyst can result from an injury or when the lining of the knee becomes inflamed. Osteoarthritis and misalignment of the knee can also cause these cysts.

A popliteal cyst forms in the joint capsule between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). The most noticeable symptom will be the appearance of a soft bump at the back of the knee and a feeling of pressure behind the knee. Some athletes may experience pain, tenderness or weakness in the knee, but these symptoms may result from the underlying cause of the cyst.

Treatment will be determined by the underlying cause of the cyst. Rest, ice and elevation may help relieve pressure or discomfort. Doctors may aspirate the cyst. The cause of the cyst will dictate recovery time.

Prepatellar Bursitis

Athletes who often fall on their knees or experience repeated blows to the knee are susceptible to prepatellar bursitis. Constant friction on the patella, or kneecap, or trauma to the knee can irritate the bursa. These lubricating sacs allow the patella to move fluidly under the skin.

When the bursa become inflamed, athletes will notice swelling in front of the kneecap and pain during activity. The top of the knee may be tender and feel warm to the touch. If prepatellar bursitis is not treated, small bumps may develop over the kneecap.

Treatment includes RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Physical therapy massage and trigger point release can speed recovery. In some cases, doctors may aspirate the bursa. Flexibility and strengthening exercises can help prevent prepatellar bursitis from becoming chronic.

Most athletes with minor cases of prepatellar bursitis will be back at full strength in two to three weeks.

Road Rash

These are deep abrasions caused by falling on asphalt. It is when part or all of the skin is rubbed off. The severity depends on the deepness of the road rash. This is most common in motorcyclists, bike riders, and skateboarders.

Rotator Cuff Strain

The rotator cuff is the group of four muscles in the shoulder. When one of this muscles is stretched too far or torn, it is called a rotator cuff strain. This injury often occurs with a sudden, powerful movement like a baseball pitch.

Ruptured Bicep

The bicep is the muscle located in the front of the upper arm that helps to bend the elbow and keep the shoulder stable. The bicep tendons attach this muscle to bones in the shoulder and elbow. A rupture occurs when these tendons are torn, either partially or completely.

Ruptured Pec

The pectoralis or chest muscle is made up of two parts: the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major and the tendon that attaches it to the arm bone can tear and is often called a "ruptured pec." This injury often occurs during forceful pushing such as weightlifting or blocking in football.

Separated Shoulder

The shoulder is one of the body's most mobile joints and a separation happens when one of the ligaments that connects the collar bone (clavicle) to the shoulder blade (sternum) is torn or stretched, causing the shoulder blade to push out. Separated shoulders can occur when an athlete falls on or is hit in the shoulder or tries to break a fall with her hand.

Sports Hernia

A sports hernia is when the tendons or muscles in an area of the abdominal wall weaken or is torn. Pain is felt along the lower abdomen and groin. It is difficult for doctors to diagnose sports hernias because they don’t swell under the skin like the typical hernia does.


A stinger, also known as a burner, causes sudden pain extending from the neck through the arm and into the fingertips. It is a common injury in contact sports and occurs when a network of nerves at the top of the spinal cord called the brachial plexus is compressed. Recurrent or persistent stingers can be serious.

Also see Burner.

Stress Fracture

Stress fractures happen when parts of the body are overused and muscles can become fatigued and cannot continue to absorb shock. The shock is transferred to the bone and causes the crack known as a stress fracture. Increasing intensity too quickly, the impact of hard surfaces and improper equipment all can contribute to stress fractures.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the tibia nerve in the foot. The compression occurs on the outside of the ankle and causes pain, burning, or numbness in the arch or sole of the foot. The pain may be worse when standing, walking or running for long periods, and at night.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome can be mistaken for plantar fasciitis. A quick nerve test will confirm the proper diagnosis. Treatment includes rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. Injections may help relieve the pain. If the nerve does not respond to treatment, surgery for decompression may be necessary.

Overpronation is a common cause of tarsal tunnel syndrome and an athlete may experience this condition simultaneously in both feet. Orthotics can help correct the problem. Recovery can take two days to several months if surgery is required.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow occurs when the lateral epicondylitis on the outside of the elbow becomes inflamed from repetitive motion. While golf and tennis can lead to tennis elbow, this injury is most common outside of sports in workers whose jobs require repetitive wrists extension.

Tennis elbow causes pain on the outside of the elbow that may radiate down the arm and into the wrist. The pain can make it difficult to do simple tasks such as turn a doorknob. If untreated, tennis elbow can cause chronic pain.

Initial treatment includes RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation, and over-the-counter medication to reduce pain and inflammation. It is important to determine what motion caused the injury and correct any improper mechanics. A brace can help reduce strain. Continuing to work or compete with pain can cause further damage.

Message, stretching and strengthening exercises can help an athlete return to action without pain. Initial treatment can take a few weeks. In severe cases, rehab can require months. Corticosteriod injections may help relieve the pain for a short time.

Thumb Sprain

A thumb sprain is an injury to ligaments in the thumb, most commonly the ulnar collateral ligament at the base of the thumb. This injury is sometimes called skier’s thumb, but rugby players and soccer goalies are also prone to thumb sprain.

This injury occurs when the thumb is jammed during a fall or impact with a ball or another player. A sprain can also result if the thumb is hyperextended. This can happen when a skier holds on to his poles during a fall.

An athlete with a thumb sprain may experience throbbing pain at the base of the thumb and in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. Other symptoms include swelling, bruising and difficulty grasping objects. Doctors will x-ray the thumb to rule out a fracture. Partial ligament tears are generally treated with a cast or splint. Completely torn ligaments may require surgery.

Recovery from a Grade 1 thumb sprain can take three to four weeks. Recovery from a Grade 3 sprain that requires surgery can take several months.

Torn Meniscus

The meniscus is a crescent-shaped disc that acts a shock absorber in the knee. Each knee has two menisci and they can tear when the upper part of the body twists while the foot is planted, or when the knee joint is hyper flexed.

Turf Toe

Turf toe happens when the big toe gets bent too far up or down. This often occurs when an athlete jams her toe or repeatedly pushes off a hard surface. When football fields starting using artificial turf, the rate of injury to the joint at the base of the big toe (the first metatarsal-phalangeal or MTP joint, to be exact) increased and gave the injury its name.


Whiplash is a cervical strain or sprain and describes the pain that follows injury to the soft tissue of the neck. When the neck is forced beyond its normal range of motion, the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the neck can be torn or stretched.