It’s football season – and not just for the professionals. Fall is a time for cheering on your loved ones from the stands and getting grass stains out of uniforms. It’s supposed to be an exciting and competitive time – but if your loved one gets hurt, it could mean the end of their season. What are some of the most common football injuries, and how do you treat them?
Six Common Football Injuries
1. Shin Splints
When your loved one is just beginning to train, they may experience mild to severe shin splints. This is usually a pain in the shins caused by muscle tightness and overtraining too quickly. It can also be caused by not breaking in new shoes or cleats. Symptoms include pain along the inner side of the shins and swelling.
To recover, your loved one may need to temporarily stop training to reduce the stress put on their shins. Exercises to stretch the shins and calves can be helpful to reduce tightness. Other exercises like swimming or biking can help stretch the muscles and maintain activity without further harming the muscles impacted by shin splints. Rest paired with ice can help reduce this injury over the course of a few days.
From an ankle to a wrist, sprains can vary from mild to severe. Symptoms include tenderness, a limited range of motion, and a popping sensation in the injured body part. If your loved one has experienced a mild sprain, they’re likely still able to play and train with some minor discomfort, but playing with a severe sprain can further injure the ankle or wrist. This can slow recovery time and may lead to your loved one being unable to play.
Regardless of the severity, you can treat sprains with ice, compression, rest, and elevation. Icing an ankle should be done intermittently for 10-15 minutes at a time. By resting and reducing any swelling associated with the sprain, your loved one can fully recover within a few days to a couple of weeks – depending on the severity of their sprain.
Strain injuries are a little more serious than sprains and are usually associated with pain that is severe and radiates. They occur when a person’s muscle fibers tear due to using improper form when exercising, or by overuse and lack of appropriate rest. Symptoms include muscle spasms, weakness, stiffness, and swelling. Whether your loved one is experiencing a hamstring, rotator cuff, or other strain, they may be unable to train or play until their wound has been treated.
If your loved one has experienced a strain, they should visit an emergency or urgent care clinic to help determine the severity of their injury and get a treatment plan. Some strains include tears that may require surgery to repair. Your doctor will be able to provide you with an adequate treatment plan that includes rest and exercises to help strengthen their impacted muscle. Depending on the location and severity of your loved one’s strain, it can take anywhere from two days to 10 weeks for their full recovery.
4. Knee Ligament Injuries
Injuries to your loved one’s knee, including a dislocated kneecap or ACL tear, can be detrimental to their season. Knee ligament injuries are typically extremely painful and prevent your loved one from bending their knee properly. Walking will likely be difficult and painful for the first few days, and treatment should be acquired as soon as possible. The most common types of knee ligament injuries include an ACL tear or an MCL tear. An ACL injury often is accompanied by a popping sound at the time of injury, an inability to fully extend the leg, tenderness, swelling, and feeling like the knee is giving out. By the same token, an MCL tear includes the same symptoms – however, your loved one would also be unable to carry their body weight on the injured knee.
By visiting an emergency room or an urgent care clinic, you can evaluate the severity of your loved one’s knee ligament injury. A doctor will be able to determine the best treatment plan and whether or not surgery is a requirement to repair the knee. Depending on the severity of the tear, your loved one may be unable to play for anywhere between a couple of weeks to three months.
5. Metatarsal & Other Stress Fractures
Metatarsal bones are long and slender bones located in the middle of your foot and toes. Tackles, overuse, and excessive rotation can cause small stress fractures to occur. Stress fractures — whether metatarsal or otherwise — can cause pain during activity and are accompanied by swelling and possible bruising.
If your loved one has swelling and bruising that doesn’t subside after a few days, you should visit an emergency room or an urgent care clinic to get x-rays and determine if a stress fracture is the cause of their pain. A doctor will be able to properly diagnose the condition and prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to help relieve the discomfort and swelling. Depending on the location and severity of the stress fracture, recovery can take anywhere from one to six weeks.
Concussions occur when trauma causes the brain to jolt back and forth too fast. One of the most commonly occurring football injuries, they can have long-term effects on your loved one. If your loved one plays a defensive position, they have a 17.8% chance of receiving a concussion each play. Anytime your loved one receives a head injury — regardless of impact — you should take them to an emergency room or an urgent care clinic to ensure there is no internal bleeding. Signs of a concussion include headaches, blurred vision, slurred speech, sensitivity to light or noise, confusion, nausea, and/or memory loss.
Depending on the severity of their head wound, your doctor may suggest shorter school days and suggest taking breaks throughout the day. Pain relievers can help mitigate discomfort, but rest is the best medicine for injuries of this caliber. Once signs and symptoms have resolved, your loved one can return to training and playing – but you should consider getting approval from a neurologist or other physician to minimize long-term complications.
Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas
If you or a loved one has been injured playing football, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.
Find the Complete Care location nearest you.