Wrestlers compete at all levels of competition from high school to college to the Olympic level.

Wrestling is a physically demanding sport that has been around for thousands of years.  Some believe it is one of the oldest sports around.  Wrestlers compete at all levels of competition from high school to college to the Olympic level.  There are various tournaments throughout the country, which are sponsored by different organizations such as the U. S. Wrestling Foundation, the American Athletic Union and the Olympics.  In San Diego County we have multiple high school and college sponsored tournaments.  These tournaments are dedicated to athletes of all sizes, ages, genders and experience.  Wrestling offers something for everyone.  Each participate is matched with some one of their equal weight class and experience level.  This helps decrease the risk of injury overall.  Even though these rules are put in place to decrease the risk of injury they still tend to occur as in any other sport.

Wrestling injuries most commonly affect the head, shoulders, knees and skin but can also affect other areas of the body.  These injuries can range from sprains and strains to more serious traumatic type injuries.  In our clinic we successfully treat many of these sprains and strains. I see a wide variety of these musculoskeletal type injuries.  At our clinic we often see a direct relationship between injuries, age of the participant or athlete, and frequency of participation. Some of the most common injuries include—various muscle strains, prepatellar bursitis, ACL and PCL tears, MCL and LCL tears, groin pulls, Neck sprains and strains, Shoulder injuries—ie. Rotator cuff tears, separations and dislocations, bruises and contusions, concussions, hamstring and quadriceps strains.

Common Wrestling Injuries

Below is a list of some of the more common wrestling injuries that we treat in our clinic on a regular basis.

SDRI-neck-painCervical Spine Strain / Sprain (Neck Strain / Sprain)

A neck strain occurs when a muscle, tendon or ligament overstretches beyond its normal fiber capacity causing tearing in the muscle and tissue fibers.  This will often cause the neck musculature to go into spasm.  In wrestling this can occur with a sudden fall, impact and /or contact with the other competing athlete or mat when trying to pin your opponent.  These types of injuries usually occur when the head is forcibly moved from one position to another.  This is common “Whiplash type injury”.  This pain may start right away or come on after a few hours or days after the initial injury.   As the spasm progresses, it will begin to feel tight and be very tender to the touch.   These muscle spasms can sometimes lead to tension headaches, which can mimic migraines or even a concussion.  When there is any type of impact type injury you want to first make sure that there is no chance of a concussion.  This can be screened out with a few cognitive and neurological exams.

miniscus-tearAnterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL)

The ACL is a strong band of tissue that connects the femur to the tibia. This ligament is located deep inside the knee joint. The ACL adds stability to the knee and prevents it from twisting and sliding forward. The ACL is most commonly injured when the foot is planted
and the knee is contacted from the side or rotated very quickly such as getting flipped over or pinned in wrestling. This force causes hyperextension and extensive twisting of the knee causing the ACL to tear. The extent of the tear depends on the amount of force and twisting the knee has undergone. Many times the athlete or wrestler will hear a “pop” after the injury. This usually is the result of a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. When the ACL is injured, swelling around the knee will usually come on very quickly. The athlete will describe the knee as being very unstable and sometimes too painful to bear weight on it. Initially crutches should be used in order to take pressure off the knee. An MRI should be considered to see the degree of the ligament damage.  Many times when the ACL is torn you will also have damage to other structures of the knee such as the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL), Meniscus or Collateral ligaments.

Prepatellar Bursitis

Prepatellar bursitis results from irritation or inflammation to the bursa that lies in the front of the kneecap or patella.  A bursa is a fluid filled sac that helps to cushion and reduce friction between tendons, tissue and bones throughout the body.  This bursa is located in the front of the kneecap near the patellar tendon attachment.  This is a common injury in wrestlers since their knees are constantly rubbing on the mats.  When a bursa gets irritated it will swell up and cause a lot of pain in the front of the knee.  It will often look swollen and hurt with any pressure placed upon it.  Pain will also increase with any type of movement such as extending or flexing the knee joint.  This injury can be treated conservatively with therapeutic ultrasound, sports taping, and various exercise modifications to the athletes existing exercise regiment.  In severe cases that do not respond to conservative treatment, a corticosteroid injection may be administered to help reduce inflammation.  Bursitis is the one instance that a cortisone injection can be very effective if performed properly.


Medial and Lateral Collateral Ligament Sprains (MCL & LCL)

This type of injury occurs when there is a blow to the inner or outer side of the knee such as someone hooking the leg during a wrestling match causing the knee to buckle. This contact will cause excessive stretching and/or tearing of the ligament. This can also occur by any unwarranted twisting on the knee. These ligaments connect the femur to the tibia and help to prevent lateral motions of the knee. When one of these ligaments is injured the inner and/or outer knee will be tender to the touch. There is often mild swelling near the joint and the wrestler will have the feeling of the knee giving way. If the ligament ruptures during the contact the wrestler will sometimes hear a pop or snapping sound. The degrees of injury can be easily detected with various orthopedic testing in our clinic. Based on the degree of injury a treatment plan can be devised to speed the process of healing.

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