Most Common Football Injuries

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Most of us are aware that football is a collision sport with a high risk of injury. Athletes, including children, professionals and even those who just play a pick up game here and there face the possibility of injuring themselves during a football game.  As we reach the height of the American football season craze, it’s important to note the most common football injuries.

According to OrthoIndy sports medicine specialist, Dr. Scott Lintner, the most common football injuries consist of sprains of ligaments, strains of muscles and contusive injuries. However, football players can also suffer fractures, but they are less common. Concussions have been in the media a lot and can be common in football as well. They vary in severity, but should be taken very seriously.

“Sprains, strains and contusions in football typically involve the upper and lower extremities including the shoulders, knees and ankles,” said Dr. Lintner.

Symptoms of common football injuries include pain and swelling, and sometimes bruising around the injured area. Limited playing ability or performance are often the reason an athlete seeks treatment.

The position an athlete plays can also determine what injuries are more likely to occur. “Some positions are played at a much faster pace and they tend to experience different types of injuries as opposed to the linemen who play at a somewhat slower pace,” said Dr. Lintner. The faster players tend to endure more injuries to their ankles and are more likely to suffer a concussion. On the other hand, knee injuries are common in linemen due to blocking or getting hit in the knees from their blind side.

“In most cases when a football player comes into my clinic with an injury, I start by obtaining a history of how the injury occurred, what the player was doing at the time of injury and what they felt their capabilities were immediately after the injury occurred,” said Dr. Lintner.

A physical examination is then performed to assess function, strength and stability of the involved area. Sometimes imaging is involved either with plain radiographs or with more advanced scanning techniques such as the MRI or CT scans.

Different injuries require different treatments. However, many football injuries can be treated very conservatively with rest, ice and avoidance from activity. An athlete is ready to return to play after full range of motion is achieved, there is minimal or no pain and the injured area has a full return to function. In extreme cases, more severe injuries might require surgery. Concussions are treated symptomatically and require the passing of neuro-cognitive testing to be cleared to resume contact play.

“A broken bone could take two months or more to return to full function, whereas a simple contusion could only require a week or less,” said Dr. Lintner. “The severity of the injury, the site of the injury and the position of the player are all taken into account to determine how long a player may miss practice or a game.”

It is important for athletes to wear the protective gear and follow safe methods of play. “With the amount of padding and protective equipment that the players have, it is much safer than it has been in the past, however there are still a number of injuries present that an athlete should be aware of.”

To schedule an appointment with OrthoIndy click here.

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