Baseball may be referred to as “America’s Past Time”, but if Saturdays and Sundays in the fall and winter are any indication, football has become America’s most watched sport. With televised games from around the nation, fantasy sports, and constant coverage leading up to game days, the average American gets a very healthy dose of football fever from September through February. As any football fan knows, not only do injuries occur, but they occur quite commonly. Because of the immense amount of physical strain that goes into this combat-like, full contact sport, injuries can range from simple sprains and bone fractures, to more severe head, neck, and spinal injuries. Here are some of the most commonly injuries that JAG see from football players, and how they get on the path to recovery to be able to make it back onto the field.
Any activity that demands cutting and change of direction puts the knees at risk for injury. Add in the physical element of football, and knee injuries skyrocket. Due in part to the new field surfaces that football athletes are playing and practicing on, sprains are quite common. The more severe injuries to the knee include injury to the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial collateral ligament, both of which serve as supports to the twisting and bending of the knee joint. Recovery time for ACL injuries can be quite lengthy, with most cases recovering in 4 to 6 months. MCL injuries take much less time to heal, and depending on the scale of the injury, can take as little as a few days to 2 months to heal well enough to return to activity.
In recent years, more focus has been on protecting football player’s heads, and subsequently their brains, while participating in the sport. Concussions have always been a “part” of the game, but it’s only been over the last few years that studies have been able to draw conclusive evidence that multiple concussions can cause serious damage to the brain. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Although there may be cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other visible signs of a brain injury. Recovery from a concussion can range from a week to a few months, but research shows that more permanent negative effects are left on the brain following a football career where multiple concussions are sustained.
There’s a good reason that football players wear shoulder pads, and that’s because a large number of football-related injuries occur to the shoulder. Every time a player goes to make a tackle, or hits the ground, their shoulder is placed at an unnatural angle to receive impact, putting it at risk for an injury like a dislocation. In a shoulder dislocation, the top of the arm bone is forced from the shoulder socket due to a hit or fall. Recovery time for a dislocated shoulder is 4 to 12 weeks. If additional damage occurred during the dislocation, such as a labral tear or other tissue damage, it may bring an additional risk of future dislocations.
The legs are the motor of every football player, and with the speed and force that players fly around the field, it’s only a matter of time until a player suffers from an injury to their leg. One of the most common is the hamstring strain, or pull, where a slight tears occurs in the hamstring tendon and is often painful and difficult to prevent. Most athletes are able to recover from a hamstring injury within a week or two, but may be at a greater risk for reoccurrence. Another common leg injury occurs when a player is tackled and lands on the hip bone. The impact to the bone, called a hip pointer, can bruise the surface of the bone and can cause severe pain and bruising. Depending on the age of the player, hip pointers can heal within a few weeks, or can take up to 3 months to fully subside. Ankle sprains are common in lineman and position players who are constantly running or moving in traffic. Often times, a player will simply step on another player’s foot, causing the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the ankle to stretch or tear. Most athletes recover from an ankle sprain in about a month, but more severe sprains can take up to 4 months and may require immobility and stabilization for an extended period of time.
The experts at JAG-ONE Physical Therapy can treat all of these common football injuries. Contact us today to make your appointment.