What are the Injuries Associated with Mixed Martial Arts?

MMA is a full-contact combat sport that combines elements of boxing, wrestling and other martial arts. Learn about the most common injuries associated with MMA.

What are the Injuries Associated with Mixed Martial Arts?

MMA is a relatively new sport that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a full-contact combat sport that combines elements of boxing, wrestling, and other martial arts. MMA includes a lot of boxing and blows to the head and face, which can lead to a variety of injuries. The most common injuries are lacerations, however, they also include burst fractures, bruises, nasal fractures, dental injuries and concussions.

Studies have found that the injury rate of competitive MMA athletes ranges from 22.9 to 28.6 per 100 engagements in fights. The part of the body that is most often injured is the head, then the wrists, then the fractures and the least amount is concussions. The most commonly injured joint is the elbow joint, followed by the knee joint (ACL, MCL, meniscus). The most common types of injuries are lacerations, followed by fractures and concussions.

The orbital bones, nose, ribs, ulna, radius, and collarbone are often fractured. Long bone fractures are rare but can occur due to a blow or blockage in the tibia, fibula, radius or ulna. Other common musculoskeletal injuries include metacarpal contusions or sprains, AC joint separations, elbow subluxations, bursitis and MCL sprains, midfoot and ankle sprains, trapezius strains and Achilles tendon injuries. Treatment with heat or cold therapy is essential for strains and sprains commonly associated with martial arts injuries. In most cases cold therapy is more appropriate to reduce swelling while thermal therapy can relieve muscle aches caused by overwork.

Hands are particularly vulnerable to injury during martial arts so it is important to wear protective gear and receive extensive training and supervision in new techniques. Although gunshots in the groin are strictly prohibited in virtually all martial arts they occur involuntarily but regularly. Many MMA enthusiasts think that if they don't “do it with all their strength without protective gear they're not doing it “right”. However everyone concluded that the difference in the frequency of injuries between full contact and semi-contact martial arts is surprisingly small. Overall MMA is a sport with a high injury rate with an incidence of 25 injuries per 100 competitive fights. As a result of this growing participation in MMA healthcare providers are tasked with treating injuries in this growing population despite a dearth of evidence and knowledge about injuries specific to MMA athletes.