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Injuries in football. Anthony De Luca. Football is a high-risk sport because of the naturally physical nature of the game, combined with the speed, strength and size of players.

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injuries in football

Injuries in football

Anthony De Luca

Football is a high-risk sport because of the naturally physical nature of the game, combined with the speed, strength and size of players.

Also, many teenagers play this sport, and as a result of the forces generated, as well as the mismatch in body sizes, injuries to various parts of the body are common.

Some examples of common football injuries include:

Sprains and Strains




Spinal Injuries

In 2008, the body parts most frequently injured in high school and college football were:

Shoulder (18%) 6. Ankle (11%)

Finger (15%) 7. Upper Trunk (7%)

Knee (14%) 8. Lower Arm (6%)

Head (13%) 9. Lower Trunk (5%)

Wrist (11%)

sprains and strains
Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are the most common type of football injury

A sprain is an injury to a ligament

Ligament injuries involve a stretching or a tearing of this tissue.

A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon

Depending on the severity of the injury, a strain may be a simple overstretch of the muscle or tendon, or it can result in a partial or complete tear.

common types of sprains
Common Types of Sprains
  • Ankle Sprains- The most common of all ankle injuries, an ankle sprain occurs when there is a stretching and tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle joint.
  • The ligaments around the ankle can become pulled and torn when the ankle is forced into a position not normally encountered.
  • The most common cause of an ankle sprain is applying weight to the foot when it is in an inverted or everted position.
  • Wrist Sprains-Wrists are often sprained after a fall in which the athlete lands on an outstretched hand or hits the ground with their hand in an awkward position.

Both sprains are graded according to severity: Grade 1 (mild) -- over-stretching / micro-tears of ligaments Grade 2 (moderate) -- partial ligament tears and mild joint instability Grade 3 (severe) -- severe or complete ligament tears and significant joint instability

treating ankle sprains
Treating Ankle Sprains
  • For immediate relief, follow the R.I.C.E. treatment plan.
  • Many of the problems resulting from sprains are due to blood and edema in and around the ankle, therefore it is important to minimizing swelling.
  • After applying the ice, wrap the ankle in an ACE bandage to keep it supported and compressed.
  • An anti-inflammatory can be helpful to reduce pain and inflammation for the first 7 to 10 days after the injury.


Fractures account for one quarter of all serious football injuries.

Commonly fractured bones include the finger,wrist and leg.

Fractures happen because an area of bone is not able to support the energy placed on it.

There are two critical factors in determining why a fracture occurs:

the energy of the event

the strength of the bone

fracture treatment
Fracture Treatment
  • The treatment of a specific fracture depends on factors such as:
  • Location of the fracture
  • Severity of angulation or deformity
  • Potential for healing
  • Other injuries
  • Age and activity level of the athlete
  • In most cases reducing a fracture involves placing the broken bone in a cast
  • If the bone cannot heal or properly allign, then a further procedure may be necessary. This usually means surgery with fixation of the bone with pins, plates, screws or rods.
turf toe
“Turf Toe”

Turf toe is a condition of pain at the base of the big toe, located at the ball of the foot.

The condition is usually caused from either jamming the toe, or pushing off repeatedly when running or jumping.

The name "turf toe" comes from the fact that this injury is especially common among athletes who play on artificial turf.

The hard surface of artificial turf, combined with running and hitting of football, make turf toe a very common injury for players.

Athletic footwear is responsible also

Flexible shoes or cleats provide less support to the forefoot joints, which can contribute turf toe.

effects and treatment
Effects and Treatment
  • Effects on the Toe:
  • When a player sustains a turf toe injury, they are actually tearing the capsule that surrounds the joint at the base of the toe.
  • Tearing this joint capsule can be extremely painful.
  • Tears of the joint capsule can lead to instability and even dislocation of the joint at the base of the toe.
  • This can cause accelerated cartilage wear and arthritis of the big toe
  • Treatment of turf toe consists of:
  • -controlling the inflammation of the joint capsule.
  • -resting the sore toe to allow the inflammation to subside and the joint capsule to heal.
burner stinger

Burners (Stingers)are neck injuries that cause pain that feels like a burning, pinching or shock that runs from the base of the skull to the shoulder or along the neck.

This pain is quite intense usually for a short period of time

usually caused when a quick movement causes the compression or pinching of the bundle of nerves that run from the back of the neck into the arm.

This often occurs from a twisting of the neck and head, or an impact from the side during football play.

In addition to pain and shock from the shoulder down into the arm and fingers, there may be numbness, burning or weakness in the arm.


Whiplash occurs when a forceful impact (commonly from behind) causes your head and neck to snap forward and back in an abrupt, violent motion.

It is commonly seen in car accidents and contact sports.

refers to an injury to the soft tissues of the neck including the ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Most injuries are similar to those of neck strains and include soft tissues injuries to the muscles and ligaments but whiplash can damage the cervical discs as well.

also called cervical hyperextension injury or flexion-extension neck injury.

symptoms and treatment

The most common symptoms of whiplash occur immediately or within 24 hours of the accident:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
  • Low back pain
  • Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears or blurred vision
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue
Symptoms and Treatment
  • Most whiplash injuries heal within weeks
  • if left untreated they can linger and turn into chronic conditions that last for years and lead to pain and sometimes disability.
  • Sometimes Cat Scans or MRI are used to determine the extent of the injury.
  • A soft cervical collar may be used
  • it is worn to help support the head and relieve pressure on the neck while ligaments heal.
shin splints

Shin Splints

considered a cumulative stress injury because they often occur after repeated stress or jarring of the bones, muscles and joints without proper conditioning or recovery between workouts.

The pain of shin splints is typically located on the outer front portion of the lower leg (anterior shin splints) or pain on the back inside of the lower leg (posterior medial shin splints).

caused by trauma to either the muscles or bones of the lower leg.

often related to overtraining or excessive running on hard surfaces.


Beginning athletes are at increased risk of shin splints and stress fractures because they are not used to the high impact running has on the muscles and joints of the lower leg and foot.

  • Other causes of shin splints include:
  • Improper stretching
  • Lack of warm-up
  • Training too hard
  • Running or jumping on hard surfaces
  • Muscle imbalance between the posterior and anterior leg
  • Worn out shoes that do not have enough support
  • Running on a tilted or slanted surface


- Concussions are caused by a blow to the head.

- This injury causes some level of impairment of brain functions.

Simply put, a concussion is a temporary injury to the brain tissue.

Depending on the force of the injury the concussion can have different symptoms.

When the head is struck, the brain risks being injured because of the forces absorbed by the brain tissue.

When the brain is injured, normal signal pathways that send messages from our brain to the body are interrupted.

Symptoms of a concussion can include:


short term memory problems

loss of consciousness



Concussions are graded on a scale of I to III

Grade I: A mild concussion, occurs when there is a head injury, and perhaps some confusion, but full memory of the event.

Grade II: A moderate concussion, with confusion, and difficulty recalling the event, but no loss of consciousness.

Grade III: A severe concussion, when there is a loss of consciousness and no memory of the event.