The Most Common Types of Muscle Pain in Athletes

All types of athletes rely on the muscles of their bodies to perform. Whether they are running down the field, swinging a tennis racket, or dribbling a basketball, muscles are what allow you to move with the desired control and intensity. Strength, flexibility, and endurance training help keep muscles in good shape and give athletes better resistance to injuries. In spite of their best efforts, many athletes experience muscle injuries that may be mild to debilitating. Many of these injuries result in the need for pain management, in addition to medical treatment.

Athletes also share some common injuries, in spite of participating in different sports. According to Live Well with Unity Point Health, these are the five most common injuries athletes across a wide range of sports endure:

  1. Knee Injuries
  2. Shoulder Injuries
  3. Tennis or Golf Elbow
  4. Hamstring Strains
  5. Sciatica

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries, or patellofemoral syndrome, account for approximately 55% of sports-related injuries, making them the leading reason that athletes go to the pain management doctor. It often takes weeks for the athlete to heal, during which time the athlete will often be advised to continue low impact exercise to prevent muscles from weakening. Knee injuries can occur in almost any sport, but are most common in basketball, where the athlete is constantly running and pivoting, along with cycling, volleyball, football, and other sports that require running.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries account for about 1/5th of all sports-related injuries and occur most frequently among athletes in basketball, weightlifting, tennis, and other sports that rely on overhead movement. This type of injury is typically treated with anti-inflammatories and ice packs to eliminate swelling.

Tennis or Golf Elbow

Both of these terms refer to the same condition of epicondylitis: inflammation of the ligaments in the elbow due to repetitive use. The associated pain is most often on the outside of the elbow. Since the cause of the injury is from tiny tears in the ligaments of the elbow joint, rest and reducing inflammation are the best ways to treat this type of injury.

Hamstring Strain

The hamstring is made up of three muscles behind the knee. A strain occurs when the athlete either over-stretches the muscles or over uses them. This results in tears of the tendons or muscles. Sports in which the athlete moves forward, such as skiing, can cause these injuries.


Sciatica is pain which comes from the sciatic nerve that runs down the lower back and into the backs of the legs. Bulging discs often occur, along with sciatica, and may be the cause of pain. If spasms occur from an injury, ice and anti-inflammatories can be used for relief. For sciatica pain and herniated disc, the athlete should seek immediate treatment from a medical specialist. Immediate and ongoing pain from these conditions will often require additional treatment from a pain management doctor.

In many cases, these and other sports-related injuries can be prevented with proper training, warmups, use of safety equipment, and applying the proper techniques. When every precaution fails to prevent injury, call us at 212-757-0222 for an evaluation of your injury and the most modern solutions in pain management.



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