Children's Hospital Colorado
Orthopedics Institute
Orthopedics Institute

Lacrosse

Athletic trainer checks lacrosse player's elbow.

“Two months after my surgery, I was fully recovered and playing a tournament in southern California, just like Dr. Erickson had said. It felt great to be back on the field. I’m still playing, if not better than before.”
– Hayden Eppers, lacrosse player who recovered from a broken elbow

The Sports Medicine Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado provides pediatric care for all types of sports injuries, including lacrosse. 

Why are we experts at caring for kids and young adults who play lacrosse?

Lacrosse is a fast-paced, competitive game that is rapidly gaining popularity throughout Colorado and across the country. Because our Sports Medicine team focuses solely on young athletes, we have the expertise to help lacrosse players recover from an injury and get back on the field.

A lacrosse player wearing a white uniform looks to pass while a player in a navy blue uniform plays defense.

What impact does lacrosse have on the body? 

Lacrosse is a sport that challenges the entire body. Because it is a high-energy running and cutting (a way of separating from a defender) sport for boys and girls, lacrosse places the legs at risk for injury. Throwing, catching, cradling and shooting also place stress on the upper body. 

How does lacrosse differ for boys and girls? 

Lacrosse is a unique sport in that the rules for men and women (and boys and girls) are very different. Men’s lacrosse is classified as a contact sport, allowing both body and stick checking (disrupting a player’s movement or knocking the ball away). Male players wear helmets with facemasks, mouth guards, arm, elbow and shoulder pads and gloves to protect them during the game. 

Women’s lacrosse is technically a non-contact sport, though controlled stick checking is allowed. Women do not wear helmets, but are required to wear eye protection and mouth guards. 

Does lacrosse affect a certain age group or gender more than others? 

The biggest differences are due to the different rules in men’s and women’s (or boys’ and girls’) lacrosse. Boys have more legal contact during the game and have greater incidence of shoulder separations and traumatic shoulder injuries

Similar to soccer players, female lacrosse players have a higher risk of non-contact ACL injuries compared to males. 

What are common lacrosse injuries? 

The most common injuries from lacrosse include:

  • Concussion is a common lacrosse injury that can occur from collisions with other players, stick checks to the head, being struck in the head by the ball, or from falling and hitting the head on the ground. Even though boys wear helmets and girls do not, the concussion rates in both sports are similar.
  • Shoulder separation and dislocation are much more common in men’s lacrosse, where there is greater contact.
  • Overuse injuries to the shoulder are not very common in lacrosse, compared to baseball, softball and swimming. This is mainly because the lacrosse stick gives the thrower a mechanical advantage and does not put as much stress on the shoulder itself.
  • We also see hand, wrist and arm fractures, more often in men’s lacrosse, from being slashed by the opponent’s stick.
  • Acute non-contact ACL injury, hamstring strain and ankle sprain are the most common lower extremity (leg) injuries in lacrosse. 

Resources and tips for parents and coaches of lacrosse players 

For more information about the sport, visit the US Lacrosse Website.

Learn more about our Sports Medicine Center.

Need Advice for Your Young Athlete?

Check out our sports articles, written by our Sports Medicine experts. You'll find advice and tips for parents, coaches, trainers and young athletes.

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