Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Breakdown of common wrestling injuries

This is the last blog of a three part series on winter scholastic sports. Let's head to the mat.

Breakdown of common wrestling injuries

This is the last blog of a three part series on winter scholastic sports.  Let’s head to the mat.


Sprains and strains account for nearly half of all wrestling injuries with the shoulder being more common in high school wrestlers and the knee more common in college.  About 40 percent of those injured return to the mat within 1 week. 

These injuries should be evaluated by your team’s athletic trainer and appropriate treatment plan developed.  This usually includes some time off the mat, rehabilitation exercises (strengthening, stretching, balance, etc), and modalities (heat, ice, etc).  For more serious injuries, schedule an appointment with a sports medicine physician for further work up (x-rays, MRI, etc) and other treatment options .


Dislocations/subluxations account for approximately 10% of all wrestling injuries.  These are urgent and often times emergent injuries requiring immediate care from an athletic trainer followed by a referral to a sports medicine physician or the emergency room.  These injuries most commonly occur to the shoulder, elbow, and patella and require a prolonged period off the mat and rehabilitation.


Lacerations are much more common in college wrestling and account for approximately 10 percent of collegiate injuries.  These injuries vary in severity with some being managed by your athletic trainer with an immediate return to practice or the match while others require physician referral for sutures.  Suturing may require a period of time off the mat depending on the location. 


Fractures are the second most common injury in high school wrestlers accounting for approximately 15 percent of all injuries.  These are emergent injuries requiring immediate care from an athletic trainer and referral to a sports medicine physician or the emergency room.  Fractures require a significant period of time off the mat and are often season-ending. 


Concussions account for approximately 5 percent of injuries for both high school and college wrestlers.  The majority of concussions resolve within a week.  A small portion will require a prolonged recovery period and may require a significant amount of time away from the sport.  All concussions should be taken seriously and evaluated initially by the team’s athletic trainer with a referral to s sports medicine physician trained in evaluation and management of athletic concussions.

Skin infections

Skin infections represented 8.5% and 20.3% of all reported high school and college adverse events respectively. 

  • Herpes 47.1% was the most frequently skin infection, followed by:
  • impetigo 36.8%,
  • Tinea corporis 7.4%,
  • Cellulitis 5.9%,
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)2.9%. 

All individuals with skin infections resumed wrestling during the season, with the majority of both high school (67.7%) and college (70.5%) wrestlers missing less than 1 week. 

All wrestlers with a skin infection should be evaluated by a physician for appropriate medical treatment as dictated by National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).  Wrestlers will also need a clearance letter from their physician clearing them to return to practice and competition.  There are also prophylactic treatment options for some dermatologic conditions such as herpes which can be prescribed by a physician.

Wrestling injuries are usually due to the combative nature of the sport.  As you can see, sprains and strains account for the majority of wrestling injuries.  Most of these are minor and can be managed conservatively with a quick return to sports.  The above treatment recommendations are just a guideline and any injury should be evaluated by your team’s athletic trainer or a sports medicine physician to accurately diagnose the injury and provide appropriate care.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.

About this blog

Whether you are a weekend warrior, an aging baby boomer, a student athlete or just someone who wants to stay active, this blog is for you. Read about our growing list of expert contributors here.

Robert Senior Sports Doc blog Editor
Alfred Atanda, Jr., M.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
Robert Cabry, M.D. Drexel Sports Medicine, Team physician - U.S. Figure Skating, Assoc. Team Physician - Drexel
Brian Cammarota, MEd, ATC, CSCS, CES Symetrix Sports Performance, athletic trainer at OAA Orthopaedics
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician for the Phillies & St. Joe's
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Rothman Institute, Head Team Physician - Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon - Flyers
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director - The Center For Sport Psychology, Sports Psychology Consultant - 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Rothman Institute, Team Physician - USA Wrestling, Consultant - Philadelphia Phillies
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Cassie Haynes, JD, MPH Co-Founder, Trap Door Athletics, CrossFit LI Certified
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician - Drexel, Philadelphia University, Saint Joe’s, & U.S. National Women’s Lacrosse
Jim McCrossin, ATC Flyers and Phantoms
Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales, Pa.
David Rubenstein, M.D. Main Line Health Lankenau Medical Center, Team Orthopedist - Philadelphia 76ers
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute, Athletic Trainer - US Soccer Federation
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