Semin Neurol 2000; 20(2): 225-232
DOI: 10.1055/s-2000-9832
Copyright © 2000 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.: +1(212) 584-4662

Peripheral Nerve Injuries in Athletes: A Case Series of Over 200 Injuries

Lisa S. Krivickas1 , Asa J. Wilbourn2
  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Neurology, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2000 (online)


We retrospectively reviewed electrodiagnostic (EDX) studies performed on 346 athletes with sports injuries who were referred to our EDX laboratory from 1974 to 1997. These injuries included 216 nerve root, plexus, or peripheral nerve injuries sustained by 180 of the athletes. Eighty-six percent of the injuries were to the upper extremity. Athletes with nerve fiber injuries participated in 27 different sports, but over one third of injuries were sustained playing football. The most common symptomatic upper extremity injury was the ``burner'' (N=40). Forthy-three athletes had median neuropathies, many of which were asymptomatic cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. Cervical radiculopathies (N=19) and axillary (N=22), ulnar (N=19), and suprascapular (N=14) mononeuropathies were also prevalent. The most common lower extremity injuries were peroneal neuropathies (N=17) and lumbosacral radiculopathies (N=7). This is the largest reported series of sports-related nerve injuries. The mechanisms of the most common nerve injuries are discussed.