Football is one of the most common team sports that is played on nearly every continent. Along with the increasing number of new players, the number of reported injuries increase as well.
In the United States, almost 30 million kids and teenagers participate in some form of team sports, and more than 11.67% of the total participants get injured each year. The higher rates of these injuries occur in sports that involve collisions and contact such as football, basketball, and other contact team sports.
Football and Sports Injuries
While playing football, any injury can happen. In fact, almost every move in a football game can result in some kind of an injury due to tackling, rushing, running, catching and throwing of the football. Aside from these causes, sudden impact and overuse can also result in an injury.
Most Common Football Injuries
Here are the most common football injuries:
- ACL Tear or Sprain
Anterior Cruciate Ligament, short for ACL is a ligament located in the middle of the knee. This ligament prevents the shin bone from moving out and sliding out towards the front of the thigh bone.
An injury to the ACL is usually caused by trauma to the shin. This kind of injury is common to soccer and football players and is considered as the most common ligamentous injury, which accounts for 200,000 injuries annually in the United States.
- Meniscus Tears
A meniscus is a cartilage in the knee that serves as a shock absorber and cushion between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). It also helps the knee during weight-bearing.
A tear or damage in the meniscus can occur when the knee receives a direct blow, or when it is forcefully twisted.
- Torn Ankle Ligaments
Football players run back and forth the field. Whether cutting side to side or tackling other players or jumping to catch a ball, they can easily get injured in the ankle from a direct trauma or wrong twisting of the ankle joint.
Ankle sprains and injuries involve a disruption on the fibers of the lateral ankle ligaments – the tissue fibers that stabilize the ankle. This kind of injury usually results from a twisting injury.
- Labral Injury
The shoulder joint is composed of three bones: the shoulder blade (scapula), the collarbone (clavicle), and the upper arm bone (the humerus). This upper arm bone called humerus rests its head on a socket in the shoulder blade. To stabilize these parts together, a soft fibrous tissue called the ‘labrum’ surrounds the socket. It also serves as a connection/attachment site for other several ligaments.
Injuries to the labrum, which can be in a form of lesion or tear (collectively termed as labral injuries) can occur from repetitive shoulder motion or acute blow or trauma to the shoulder. These injuries can happen secondary to forceful overhead movements, a direct blow to the shoulder, sudden pulling of the shoulder, or falling on the ground with an outstretched arm.
- The hip joint is composed of a socket (the acetabulum) and the thigh bone (the femur). The hip is a stable joint because of a fibrocartilaginous part called the ‘labrum’ that surrounds the socket. It functions to stabilize, seal, and enhance the joint.
Athletes, especially football players, who are exposed to various extreme movements, are at risk of injuring these structures. Due to frequent running, immediate stopping, sudden pivoting, the labrum can tear easily.
Top 5 Surgeries for Football Injury
After getting familiar with the five most common injuries that athletes or any football player can have, let us also discuss the five most common surgeries for a football injury:
- Arthroscopic Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction
ACL reconstruction surgery involves the use of a graft to ‘reconstruct’ and repair the damage on the ACL ligament. The most common type of graft is one that uses own parts of the body such as hamstring tendons or patellar tendons (from the kneecap). The surgery is done by removing and replacing the torn ligament with the graft.
It is an outpatient procedure that is performed by a surgeon who specializes in joint and bone surgeries. It is accomplished by creating small incisions on the knee joint.
- Partial Meniscectomy
Partial Meniscectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removal of the torn or damaged portion of the meniscus which causes pain and inflammation. Although some cases of meniscus tear/injury can be sewn back together, most cases require partial removal of the torn meniscus.
Currently, with the use of smaller surgical instruments, partial meniscectomy can be performed by using a surgical scissor placed through a small arthroscopic portal.
- Lateral Ankle Ligament Repair/Reconstruction
Lateral Ankle Ligament Repair is a common surgery for those who have injuries in the ankle ligaments that are not responsive to non-invasive treatments. For athletes who have developed lateral ankle instability, this procedure can also be beneficial.
It is done under a general or a regional anesthesia, and it is typically an outpatient procedure. Several techniques can be used for this surgery depending on the condition of the ankle ligaments. Most of the time, a repair is done by stitching the ligaments to be made stronger using the support of other tissues. In other cases, tendons may be used to take the place of torn ankle ligaments.
- Arthroscopic shoulder labral repair
Arthroscopic shoulder labral repair, also known as shoulder arthroscopy is a procedure that uses a specialized camera to view the shoulder joints through tiny incisions. With the use of the camera, the surgeon is able to view the shoulder bones and joints in detail, without creating a large cut or incision in the skin. Through the incisions, surgical instruments are also used to repair the labral tear or injury.
In most cases, patients can go home the same day of the surgery. A sling might be prescribed which is to be worn for the first three days. Like other surgeries that involve bones and joints, physical therapy may be advised as well.
- Arthroscopic Hip Labral Repair
Arthroscopic Hip Labral Repair is almost the same as arthroscopic shoulder labral repair. The only difference is that the body part being repaired is on the hip and not in the shoulder.
To perform this procedure, Arthroscopic Hip Labral Repair (also known as Hip Arthroscopy), small incisions are created. Then, the surgeon will access the damaged labrum of the hip by using specialized surgical instruments. He or she then repairs the torn labrum improving the hip joint function.
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