Football season is in full swing and being a full-contact sport with a dedicated fan base, it is no surprise that it is one of the most popular pastimes in the country. Because football is so physically demanding though, it should come as no surprise to learn that football injuries lead the pack in a large cross-section of various types of sports injuries. Whether it’s professional or college football injuries, high school, middle school, or even casual play, the game can take a physical toll on the body.
What are the Most Common Football Injuries?
The worst football injuries are associated with helmet-to-helmet contact, which can cause concussions and severe spinal damage. Though there is certainly a movement to improve the safety of players, this type of contact can have dangerous consequences and usually requires immediate medical attention.
There is also the impact the body takes from tackles and collisions with the ground and other players. In addition, serious muscle strain often occurs from the game’s fast-paced movements and there can be a price to pay from overuse and training on soft tissue and the joints of players. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Achilles Injuries: From a torn Achilles to tendonitis, Achilles injuries can be painful and substantially limit a player’s mobility or ability to even play. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, it’s not unusual for players to miss practice or playing time for 4 to 6 months until it completely heals.
- Ankle Injuries: Because of the playing surfaces and cutting motion many players do regularly, ankle injuries such as sprains and strains are high on the football injury list. If the injury is a bruise to the bone, it will usually heal quickly and sometimes won’t warrant missing any playing time. Ankle sprains and strains to tendons and ligaments are usually graded as mild, moderate, or severe, with the worst cases requiring approximately 4 months of recovery time before returning to normal activity.
- Knee Injuries: The knee is comprised of tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bones. Knee injuries can be caused by twisting or from direct impact, and usually range from a sprain to a torn meniscus or dislocation. Common knee injuries include fractures, ACL injury, PCL injury, bursitis, tendonitis, dislocated kneecap, and/or meniscus tears. The recovery time for knee injuries will depend on the type and severity of the injury.
- Shoulder Injuries: Many offensive and defensive linemen complain of shoulder injuries because of the constant impact and physical demands of these positions. The various tendons, muscles, and joints can result in strain or dislocation caused by stretching, tearing, or intense compact.
- Bone Injuries: Fracturing or breaking a bone on the field is certainly not unheard of and can be quite traumatic. Bone spurs, which are bony projections that develop along the edges of a bone, are also common among athletes and can cause a decline in a player’s ability to perform at a high level. Recovery times for bone injuries can vary widely.
Football Injury Treatment
- EPAT Therapy: Sometimes referred to as Shockwave Treatment, EPAT Therapy Treatment is a painless, non-invasive method for speeding up the healing process.
- RICE: Minor injuries, some tears, sprains, or tendonitis in an affected joint, can be improved by using the RICE Method, which stands for rest, ice, compress, elevate. RICE is especially critical in the first 72 hours of an injury.
- Taping and Strapping: While a condition like hamstring tendonitis or an ankle strain is still healing, taping and strapping can aid in reducing stress on the muscles and tendons by creating extra support and tension. Many players tape injury-prone areas before playing to provide additional support and help prevent injuries from happening in the first place.
- Surgery: Serious football injuries, such as broken bones, a ruptured Achilles, a torn rotator cuff, knee injuries, and others might have to be surgically repaired for a full recovery to be made.
- Physical Therapy: As an injury heals, undergoing physical therapy can help speed up the healing process by learning specific exercises and stretches to increase strength and improve flexibility.
If you experience a football injury or any sports injury, don’t hesitate to get help. Dr. Larson is qualified in sports medicine and is prepared to get you back in the game!