Football is one of the most popular sports in the United States, with plenty of fans as well as both amateur and professional players partaking in every game. However, despite taking some precautions, players are often prone to injuries because of the game’s nature as a high-powered contact sport.
In 2021, over 222,000 reported sports injuries were from those playing football, according to the National Safety Council. While there are a number of ways to prevent football injuries – such as proper training, nutrition, warm-ups and cool-downs – there’s always the risk of accidents and conditions that build up quietly and don’t show symptoms until its late stages.
That’s why some types of football injuries are more common than others. If you have any of these injuries, you have several options to help manage your pain.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in Football?
Both recreational and professional football players are prone to injuries. These injuries can develop over time or happen instantly during training or a game.
1. Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in football. After basketball and soccer athletes, football players are most likely to sprain their ankles during training or during a game. When this happens, the ligament that connects your leg to your foot is torn.
There are several types of ankle sprains depending on which way your ankle rolls when the ligaments tear and which section of your ankle is torn. The most common is the lateral ankle sprain, where you find it difficult to roll your foot inward toward the arch because of the injured ligament.
Players who wear the wrong type or size of shoes are at risk of ankle sprains as they’re more likely to twist their ankle during activity. Placing too much stress on your ankle can also lead to a sprain. Acute ankle sprains can be treated with the PRICE method(Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), though more serious sprains will need additional treatments.
2. Muscle Strains
Muscle strains encompass any injury to any muscle or tendon, so this can refer to a quad (front upper leg muscles) injury or oblique injury in football. Also known as a pulled or torn muscle, this happens when the muscle itself is damaged. While a sprain injures the tissue connecting bones together, strains damage the muscle itself or the tissue that attaches muscle to the bone.
For football players, muscle strains to the hamstring (the back upper leg muscles up to your knees) and quad injuries in football games are the most common. Acute strains can also be treated at home with the PRICE method, while severe cases may cause debilitating pain and require surgery.
3. Knee Injuries
Given the type of activity involved in football, there are a number of knee injuries that football players often incur. This can include:
- MCL Sprains: When the medial collateral ligament (MCL) connecting the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) together to prevent side-to-side knee motion is damaged. This is one of the most common knee injuries for football players, especially offensive and defensive linemen players. The injury can range from minor to severe, and players typically need up to two months to recover.
- Meniscus Tear: When the meniscus cartilage between your femur and tibia (responsible for protecting your bone ends from friction) is damaged or when you put too much stress and weight on this cartilage. It can take up to four weeks with treatment for the symptoms to improve, but those that develop a meniscus tear often get it on top of other knee injuries, which may require surgery.
- ACL Tear: When the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) preventing your shin bone from moving more forward relative to the femur bone is ruptured. This is another common injury among athletes, especially running backs and linebackers, and is one of the most serious. Football injuries that involve an ACL tear will require surgery and rehabilitation, which can take up to a year.
A quality football helmet can protect players from some risks, but they don’t completely remove the risk of head injuries like concussions. When a player takes a significant hit to the head, their brain shifts inside the skull and affects the fluid surrounding it.
Left untreated, concussions can lead to long-term cognitive issues, especially among high-contact sports players that are prone to head trauma. They may experience physical symptoms like headaches, poor balance, and motor coordination issues, as well as cognitive effects like memory loss and poor concentration.
5. Hip Pointers
Hip pointers are one of the most common hip injuries football players can develop. This is when a deep bruise forms where the ridge of the upper hip bone is. This is common when players fall down hard on their hips and take a direct blow in the hip area. Although common in contact sports like football, it’s also common in athletes who play non-contact sports that are also prone to falls.
Patients with hip pointers may experience bruising, pain, and tenderness in their hip area. Unlike typical bruises, however, it’s normal to experience pain as the affected area experiences movement during everyday activities. It can take up to two weeks for the pain and visible bruises to subside with treatment and avoiding strenuous activities. However, longer cases may suggest a skeletal injury to your hip bone and may need medical treatment.
What Are My Treatment Options for Football Injuries?
All football injuries can range in terms of severity, but either way, you’ll need to see a specialist who can advise you on the proper course of treatment.
In most mild to acute cases, surgery or other forms of invasive treatment are unnecessary. Non-surgical treatment can help you manage the pain and ease your recovery. Aside from the PRICE method, you may be advised to avoid strenuous activities, including playing football, until you’ve fully recovered.
Severe injuries are rare, but they may need more invasive solutions. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery. Certain types of injuries may also lead to permanent effects on your body. This can lead to chronic pain or difficulty in movement. When this happens, your doctor may advise pain management treatment, physical therapy or other solutions to help you adjust to your condition.
Get Your Body Back in the Game with American Hip Institute
Whether you’re a professional football player, a collegiate or high school athlete, or someone who just likes to play recreationally, these are just some of the most common injuries you could get from playing football. However, you should keep in mind that these injuries aren’t just limited to football players, as anyone who leads an active lifestyle may be at risk of joint, knee, hip and other musculoskeletal injuries.
At American Hip Institute, our state-of-the-art facility is well equipped to provide personalized treatment for your hips and other joints. Our team of highly experienced medical professionals can deliver a range of solutions to address your conditions, providing you with the best outcome for your treatment.
Request an appointment today to receive your own personalized treatment plan.