Common Motocross Injuries

Motocross, often shortened to MX or MotoX, is racing and stunt riding with off-road motorcycles on dirt tracks where riders launch off ramps and perform tricks while flying through the air. This sport has become not only the fastest growing, but also one of the more dangerous sports in the country.

While motocross is very satisfying to skilled riders, it is also extremely hard on their bodies. Although the most common injuries are relatively minor, such as lacerations and contusions resulting from falls off the bike, more serious injuries can occur and require the right attention for riders planning to continue their sport.

Some of the most common Orthopaedic injuries in motocross include injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL injury), the shoulder (Rotator Cuff Tears, Shoulder Instability and Acromioclavicular Joint Dislocations), and the wrist (Distal Radius Fractures).

While some of these injuries can be overcome with a balanced reconditioning program, more serious injuries unresponsive to conservative treatment require surgery.

Unintentional landings and getting thrown from the bike causes stress on the joints of those limbs first making contact with the ground – generally the knee, shoulder, hands and wrist. These types of falls impacting the knee often result in a tear of the ACL. The ACL can be torn by a sudden contraction of the quadriceps when a sudden change in direction occurs, or an externally applied force is projected directly onto the knee – such as in a motocross accident.

ACL Reconstruction is performed to reconstruct the ligament. The ligament is rebuilt with a graft consisting of bone from the patella, or kneecap, a portion of patella tendon, and some attached bone from the upper portion of the opposite, unaffected leg (graft leg). Following this surgery riders are back on the bike in three months.

Shoulder injuries, such as Rotator Cuff Tears, occur with repetitive overuse or trauma. Non-surgical Rotator Cuff Tear treatment includes: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), nutritional supplements, shoulder exercises and cortisone injections. If surgery is required to repair the Rotator Cuff Tear, a minimally invasive Arthroscopic shoulder procedure is performed.

Somewhat less frequent than rotator cuff tears is shoulder instability. Shoulder instability is classified as either a dislocation or a subluxation. A dislocation occurs when the ball at the upper end of the arm bone slips out of the socket of the shoulder blade. Most shoulder dislocations are anterior, meaning that the ball pops out the front of the socket.

Subluxation of the shoulder occurs when the shoulder only slips slightly out of the socket, then immediately comes back in place. When it starts to come out in several directions, is also referred to as multidirectional instability.

The last shoulder injury common in motocross is Acromiocavicular (AC) Joint Dislocation or Separation. The boney mass that sits on the shoulder above the Rotator Cuff is the acromion. The acromion connects the collarbone, or clavicle, to form the AC joint. AC joint separations are painful and often produce a visible bump at the top of the shoulder, which is the end of the collarbone that once connected to the acromion. Most AC separations are treated without surgery with, ice, compression, and anti-inflammatory medication. When the injury does require surgery an outpatient surgical repair is performed to restore the ligaments that maintain the AC region. Riders can be back in competition in two months.

Wrist injuries occur when a rider falls and lands on an outstretched hand – fracturing the distal radius, or forearm. Dislocation of the carpal bone may also occur from such a fall, although less common than a fracture. This injury is immediately evident, causing severe pain and an obvious deformity of the wrist. If there is no displacement and merely a crack, then a short term brace is used. If bones are not in proper alignment, surgery is performed to ensure that the boney fragments of the distal radius or dislocation of the carpal bones are put back into the correct anatomic position.

As with any sport, it is important to wear the proper safety gear. Appropriate Motocross gear includes proper clothing, protective padding, as well as a helmet.

Dr. Mark Sanders of the Sanders Clinic pioneered an Accelerated Rehabilitation program and ACL reconstruction designed to endure the active lifestyle of motocross riders as well as other athletes. He is currently conducting a study on the effectiveness of knee braces in motocross riding.

To learn more about common motocross injuries, the knee brace study and to read a testimonial from professional MX rider Jeff Dement log onto or call 888- 8 DR MARK today.