Top 15 Most Painful Injuries In Sports

Say what you will about sports stars being paid ludicrous wages - you can't deny they earn their way with the physical battering they put their bodies through week in, week out. A handful of athletes have been fortunate enough to cruise through an entire career injury-free. They're the lucky ones. Usually somewhere along the way there's some serious pain involved, be it season stopping, career ending or even life-threatening.

Sometimes it's a torn knee ligament, a dislocated shoulder or a broken arm. Painful, frustrating and halting yes, but certainly not the end of the world. Not quite as horrific as a leg being snapped clean in two, sometimes left flapping in the breeze, attached to the rest of its body only by a stubborn stretch of skin. A weight lift gone wrong can lead to all manner of disturbing outcomes, as can a boxing match when one fighter gets a hankering for some human ear. Olympic divers have suffered skull and facial injuries with mistimed leaps, while NASCAR and Formula 1 drivers have copped everything from whiplash to serious burns.

Depending on the sport, athletes will wear protective gear to prevent this sort of thing occurring. Despite the wonders of modern technology, not even this guarantees a pain-free existence. Football players are constantly battered and bruised by 350-pound linemen, something no amount of padding is likely to cushion. It's not entirely unlikely to wear an ice-hockey puck to the face, or possibly worse still a baseball. These things move at a frightening velocity. The case of former Australian Test cricketer Phil Hughes who was struck in the back of the head late last year is just one tragic example. He was hit on the base of the skull, the ball splitting a major artery which flooded his brain and claimed his life.

Here's a look at some of the more painful injuries you pray will never happen to you.

15 Fractured coccyx


The lower three to five bones of the spine make up the coccyx, often referred to as the tailbone. If you manage to fracture anything in this area, you're in for a painful couple of months. Expect a lot of standing around, or sitting on a cushioned, elevated toilet-seat type device to keep the pressure off your backside.

14 Corneal abrasion


The clear film on the front of the eye is known as the cornea which covers the colored area (the iris) and the pupil. If a stray fingernail or other foreign object makes contact with the cornea it can cause a painful scratch which are really best avoided. Given the importance of the eye, the cornea is overloaded with a pile of nerve endings to detect foreign objects before it damages one's vision.

13 Broken ribs

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Very painful for the victim, usually an American or rugby footballer taking a huge hit, a boxer being pummeled by a series of body shots or a jockey whose been thrown from a horse. Swelling, tenderness and bruising follow in the aftermath, but its the lingering recovery that makes this injury one to be avoided. Ribs can't be splinted like most other bones, so they're usually just left to heal of their own volition.

12 Collapsed lung

AP Photo

A natural follow-up from the broken ribs which can sometimes cause the puncturing that leads to a collapsed lung. When a lung is punctured, all of a sudden the air coming in is filling up the chest cavity around the lung. This build up of air can deflate the affected lung and usually requires medical treatment to remove the air from the chest cavity and allow the lung to re-inflate. Needless to say it's not something you want to go through.

11 Ruptured Achilles Tendon


The Achilles is the thickest tendon in the body, attaching the calf to the heel. Victims of ruptured Achilles Tendon's have likened the experience to being shot in the back of the leg, sometimes complete with a loud popping noise. This moment is usually followed by a slightly delayed wave of pain to the lower leg. Swelling and bruising follow, and the ankle of that leg is rendered useless.

10 Dislocated knee


Frankly, it’s surprising these don’t happen a whole lot more often. The knee is a horribly illogical joint, probably the most useless in the human body. The kneecap itself is a triangular-shaped bone sitting in a small groove between the lower leg and the femur. In among the knee is cartilage, ligaments and all other kinds of jelly trying to hold it in place. When the balance is disturbed the knee pops out of its groove, usually to the outside and occasionally all the way around behind the knee.

9 Broken neck

A horrible injury given its potential lifelong consequences. Specifically this covers the seven vertebrae between the skull and the upper back and is most commonly caused by an athlete landing on their head upside down. Instant pain engulfs the victim, as does the risk of spinal cord damage which can cause paralysis. The spinal cord is very fragile and further injury is possible if a neck injury isn't contained properly on the sporting field, which is why medical staff often wrap the athlete in a neck brace before stretchering them from the field.

Australian rugby league player Alex McKinnon suffered a broken neck last season when upended in a tackle landing awkwardly on his head and leaving him paralyzed from the legs down.

8 Prolapsed rectum


7 Double leg break


6 Ripped scalp


5 Severed carotid artery


4 Broken femur


3 Ruptured testicle


Every bit as horrible as it sounds gentlemen, and often leads to the affected nut being removed. Specifically speaking, a rupture in this sense is when the tough protective layer surrounding the testicle is torn. This particular injury has a surprisingly high occurrence in the southern hemisphere. Australian Rules footballer James Kelly ruptured a testicle in May this year. The pain caused is apparently almost as bad as childbirth, with Kelly describing the injury as excruciating.

2 Dislocated hip

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

1 Burning alive


One of the latent dangers in almost all motorsport is that at any given moment a crash can turn into a fireball of destruction. Many drivers have been killed in this way, trapped inside their vehicle as it was engulfed in flames. Occasionally a flaming driver escapes with their life, like Giorgio Bartocci did. His Lamborghini went up in flames at a race in the Czech Republic and Bartocci was trapped in the driver's cabin for about a minute until he was finally pulled from the wreckage by crewmen who had run onto the track. He was rushed to hospital in a critical condition but miraculously survived, albeit with second-degree burns to 40 per cent of his body.

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Top 15 Most Painful Injuries In Sports