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Systematic Review of Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Injuries and Treatment Outcomes in Women's National Basketball Association and National Basketball Association Players.



Athletes in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and National Basketball Association (NBA) are subject to high injury rates given the physical demands of the sport. Comprehensive data regarding injury patterns and rates in these athletes are limited.


To summarize available data on orthopaedic and sports medicine-related injuries through 2020 in professional female and male basketball players.

Study design

Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.


A search was conducted using PubMed and Embase through April 5, 2020, to identify injury studies regarding WNBA and NBA players. Studies were included if the injury or surgery was considered a direct consequence of game play including musculoskeletal/orthopaedic, concussion, ophthalmologic, and craniomaxillofacial injuries. Systematic reviews, screening studies, or studies without sufficient WNBA or NBA player subgroup analysis were excluded.


A total of 49 studies met inclusion criteria, 43 (87.8%) of which detailed musculoskeletal injuries. The lower extremity represented 63.3% of studies. A majority (59.2%) of studies were level 4 evidence. The source of data was primarily comprehensive online search (n = 33; 67.3%), followed by official databases (n = 11; 22.4%). Only 3 studies concerned WNBA athletes compared with 47 that concerned NBA athletes. The lowest return-to-play rates were cited for Achilles tendon repairs (61.0%-79.5%). Variability in return-to-play rates existed among studies even with similar seasons studied.


The majority of literature available on orthopaedic and sports medicine-related injuries of NBA and WNBA athletes is on the lower extremity. The injuries that had the greatest effect on return to play and performance were Achilles tendon ruptures and knee cartilage injuries treated using microfracture. The reported outcomes are limited by heterogeneity and overlapping injury studies. There are limited available data on WNBA injuries specifically.

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