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Sports Medicine: Top 10 Football injuries

The 10 Most Common Football Injuries

Football is an exciting, yet gruesome sport. While the commonplace viewer is focused on seeing their team win, they might not realize just how toiling each play can be. Every down involves shoving, twisting, pulling, and pushing on other players. All of the collected collisions, tackles, and falls can put a huge toll on players’ bodies, leading to a number of unique injuries. In college football alone, there are over 20,000 injuries a year. Here are some of the most common football injuries and how they affect the body.

1. Ankle Sprains and Strains

Strains and sprains are the most common injury in football, making up 39 percent of all total football injuries. In particular, the ankle is especially susceptible, as it is involved in helping players pivot and change direction. If a player puts too much pressure on a certain area when performing an evasive move or is tackled at an odd angle, they can suffer painful soft tissue damage. 

2. Knee Ligaments ACL/MCL Injuries

Injuries to the knee, whether it’s a ligament tear in the ACL or MCL, account for up to 36 percent of all football injuries. Because the legs are so active in helping a player twist, turn, and run, they are most at risk for being damaged. Tackles or hits from either the front or rear can cause the anterior cruciate ligament to suffer damage, causing instability and pain in the knee. If a player is hit from the side, it is usually the medical collateral ligament that is damaged.

3. Torn Knee Meniscus

In addition to ACL and MCL injuries, a torn meniscus in the knee is also very common. The meniscus is a rubbery layer on the outer and inner edge of your knee. When a player rotates their upper body with their feet firmly planted, it can cause the knee to twist beyond its normal range of motion, leading to a tear in the meniscus. 

4. Muscle Contusions

A muscle contusion is a deep and severe bruise that occurs on a muscle. Overall, these type of injuries account for 25 percent of all football injuries. While bruising can occur anywhere, the most common location is the larger muscles in the thigh. Contusions are typically very painful and can impair how the muscle functions until swelling goes down. They occur because of a strong impact, such as the force from a tackle or falling to the ground.

5. Shoulder Separation or Dislocation

Making up 15 percent of all football injuries, dislocations occur when bones slip out of the joints holding them in place. The most common place for this to occur is the shoulder. In particular a shoulder separation is when the acromioclavicular joint separates, and a dislocated shoulder is when the scapula is separated from the humerus. These injuries often happen when a player experiences a direct blow to the shoulder, usually from a tackle or being forced to the ground.

6. Torn Hamstrings

50 percent of football injuries occur in the lower body, so it should come as no surprise that hamstring tears are common. If a player goes too hard down the field without properly warming up or having the right conditioning, they may cause this muscle to tear. 

7.  Shoulder Tendonitis

Using certain parts of the body too much can cause an overuse injury. One such area that is particularly susceptible to this is the shoulder. In particular, quarterbacks often suffer from shoulder tendonitis because of the repetitive throwing motion they do dozens of times a game.

8. Back Muscle Spasms/Overuse Injuries

Because football is so physical, many players have problems with lower back pain. This is usually because they overuse their bodies. In many cases, players attempt to overtrain, which puts too much strain on their body and prevents them from recovering.

9. Whiplash and Neck Strain

Players often get thrown around on the field. In most cases, this doesn’t result in a problem, but if enough strain is put on the neck, it can result in whiplash. Whiplash and neck strains occur when the neck is throttled back and forth or to the side with a sudden, jarring impact. 

10. Concussions

Perhaps the most serious item on this list, concussions are an emerging topic of concern for football players. Whenever a player suffers an impact to the head, they can be at risk for developing this problem. Concussions typically cause nausea, dizziness, blurry vision, headaches, fatigue, balance issues, and numbness. To avoid permanent injury or death, a player needs to be cleared by a medical professional before getting back on the field.

Football injuries are nothing to take lightly. Without proper treatment, many of these injuries can get worse, leading to chronic pain and suffering. If you need help with an injured caused by football, don’t hesitate to contact us at 972-290-1507. Our doctors can diagnose your injury and assist you through the recovery process so that you can get back on the field in no time.

Neil Verma, MD Chief Medical Officer - *The opinions expressed herein are solely the opinions of the author. Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Should you need medical advice, see your physician.

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