5 common football (soccer) injuries
Football (soccer) season is on the full swing and I have seen a few players with some injuries recently. No one likes to get injured during a soccer match, and in reality injuries are common occurrence, ranging from minor scratches, bruises to more severe injuries such as concussion and head injuries.
Below are 5 common football (soccer) injuries that most people have come across or heard about. They are not in the order of frequency of occurrence.
1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury
This is one of the most severe injuries sustained in playing soccer. The injury usually occurs as a result of a sudden change of direction where the knee is hyperextended or rotated. A popping sound is usually heard and severe pain is felt. Swelling inside the joint (intra-articular effusion) is usually delayed and sometimes physical examination (Lachman test) to determine a tear can be difficult.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is highly accurate in making a diagnosis of ACL injury and its severity. Most ACL injuries are managed by surgery where the hamstrings tendon is harvested and used as a graft for ACL repair. Post-op physiotherapy is important for pain management, muscle strengthening and endurance, gait re-education, as well as safe and early return to soccer.
2. Groin injuries
Soccer requires a lot of running and frequent changing of direction and it can cause the muscles around the groin area to get pulled and strained. Pain can be felt when you bring your legs together or raising your knee. There is tenderness over the groin and inside of the thigh. Early intervention to relieve pain and rest can help the player to return to the game early.
3. Sprained ankle
Perhaps a sprained ankle is one of the most common soccer related injuries. It happens when the foot is rolled in (inversion) and pointing downwards (plantar flexion). Symptoms of a sprained ankle include swelling, pain, bruising and difficulty with walking. Sometimes X-ray is warranted to rule out any broken bone (fracture). Assessment and treatment by a physiotherapist following a sprained ankle will reduce the symptoms and allow early return to training and competition.
4. Hamstrings pull or strains
Hamstrings can be injured during sprinting or powerful kicking. The 3 hamstrings originate from the pelvis region, cross the hip joint before attaching to lower leg (tibia) and fibula. When the hamstrings is stretched while contracting strongly, a strain injury can occur. Sometimes muscle fibres are torn from where it is connected to the tendon area. Common symptoms include sudden and severe pain when exercising, tenderness, bruising, pain over back of thigh when walking or bending over. Your physiotherapist will be able to ascertain the extent and severity of your hamstrings injury and provide you with appropriate advice and treatment to get you back on field as soon as possible.
5. Fracture of the lower leg
Sometimes fracture in the tibia and fibula occurs when there is a direct blow to the lower leg during the game. Severe pain and inability to weight bear on the leg can be an indication of a fracture. On average, it takes 15-26 weeks for the player to return to the sport. Most players should be able to have good recovery with functional activities.
In some occasions, stress fracture in the metatarsal bones of the foot occurs as a result of repetitive stress and motion to the area. Swelling, bruising, pain, which is worse on weight bearing, and loss of function, are some of the symptoms associated with a stress fracture.
The goals of treatment for a fracture are for pain relief and immobilisation to allow the bone to heal.