Common Sports Injuries & Treatments: Football

American football has come under scrutiny in recent years due to the potentially debilitating injuries that are sustained while playing the game. Technological advances in helmet design and pad construction can only do so much to combat the crushing tackles, diving catches and agile footwork that make football the exciting game that it is. Unfortunately, the physicality of football can cause injuries ranging across the entire body of an athlete, literally from head to toe. Below we will review the most common football injuries, and the state-of-the-art therapies we offer at All-Star Pain Management and Regenerative Medicine to treat them.

Common Football Injuries

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are common in football players because athletes give and receive tackles in the upper body. Athletes may also jarringly impact the ground following a tackle or catch. Football players may experience a strain or tear to the rotator cuff, tear to the labrum, shoulder dislocation or injury to the collarbone.

Knee Injuries

Sudden directional changes and direct tackles to the knee region can cause extensive damage to the knee. Specifically, there are four ligaments in the knee that are susceptible to tears and injury:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL): Located in the center of the knee, the ACL controls forward movement and shin rotation.
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL): Located in the center of the knee, the PCL keeps the shin from sliding back.
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL): Located on the inside of the knee, the MCL provides stability to the inside of the knee joint.
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL): Located on the outside of the knee, the LCL provides stability to the outside of the knee joint.

Foot and Ankle Injuries

The foot and ankle are especially prone to injuries in football because of the quick directional changes that athletes make. Also, playing on grass or turf can magnify foot and ankle injuries because the playing surface causes the foot to plant and stick instead of allowing it to make sudden, sharp movements.
Many football players experience ankle sprains. Depending on the severity, an ankle sprain can be as painful as a broken bone.

An athlete with a mild sprain may continue to train; however, a more severe ankle sprain may require the athlete to stay off the injured ankle to allow it to heal properly.

Achilles tendinitis is a painful and frustrating injury where the tendon on the back of the ankle, stretching from the heel to the calf, is inflamed, injured or torn. It can be challenging for an athlete with Achilles tendonitis to play football, and a full recovery may be necessary before an athlete can return to play.

Turf toe is a painful injury to the big toe that is caused by repeated running or jumping on grass or artificial turf. The damage occurs at the base of the big toe joint when a football player unnaturally bends their toe backward or jams their toe into the ground. Turf toe results in immediate pain and often can lead to a chronic condition.

Muscle Strains

Quadricep and hamstring strains are frequent injuries among football players. The rapid acceleration of an athlete, combined with tackles that unnaturally pull on the leg, can cause these injuries.

Tackling Your Pain

For some injuries, a simple plan of rest, ice, compression and elevation (known as the RICE method) is the best course of action. This is particularly effective for sprains, strains and pulled muscles. The RICE method helps reduce swelling, ease pain and promote healing. When RICE is not enough, the experts at All-Star Pain Management offer a variety of specialized treatments to help eliminate your pain and restore the injured area.

Medication Management – Football injuries can cause both acute and chronic pain for athletes. Acute pain refers to pain caused by injury or trauma. Such pain usually resolves within three months. Chronic pain lasts longer than three months. Chronic pain can come and go or be an ongoing frustration for patients. At All-Star Pain Management, we understand the complexities of different injuries and how specific medications may be better suited than others to lessen the pain an athlete is experiencing. Through custom-tailored medication management, we can safely and effectively help resolve acute and chronic pain.

  • Ultrasound-guided Joint InjectionsJoint injections have been a successful treatment for joint pain for many years. With recent advances in technology, the use of ultrasound improves the procedure by identifying the exact location for needle placement, ensuring that nearby soft tissue, nerves and vessels aren’t compromised during the injection. The injection contains cortisone, an anti-inflammatory medication, that provides pain relief for two to six months. Ultrasound-guided joint injections are especially helpful to the joints most impacted by football, including the shoulders, knees, hips and ankles.
  • Stem Cell TherapyStem cell therapy is an entirely new way to think about injury treatment. No longer are we only managing pain. Using stem cells, we can treat, improve and even repair some conditions caused by playing football and other sports, such as a variety of joint injuries, torn ligaments, bone fractures, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, Achilles injuries, labral hip tears and turf toe. Stem cells are usually harvested from bone marrow taken from the patient’s hip joint. If that is not an option for the patient, stem cells can also be harvested from fat tissue. Once collected, the stem cells are processed to separate them from the other tissue. The concentrated injection of stem cells is administered to the injured area to promote healing, repair cells and regenerate healthy tissue. Stem cell therapy can be a stand-alone treatment or may be used in conjunction with surgery.
  • PRP Therapy – Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a proven regenerative treatment for a broad spectrum of sports injuries, including soft tissues, joints and bones. Specific to football injuries, PRP can be especially useful at treating most tendinitis pain as well as injuries to the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip and ankle. Blood is drawn directly from the patient and processed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from the rest of the blood, thus creating a concentration of platelets known as PRP. Then the PRP is injected into the injury site to promote cellular growth and tissue repair that leads to the rejuvenation of muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints and bones. PRP therapy may be utilized alone or used as a complement to a surgical procedure.

Relief is Only a Phone Call Away

At All-Star Pain Management & Regenerative Medicine, we understand the complexities of football injuries and have been successful in managing and treating a variety of sports-related injuries. Call our office today at 443-808-1808 to learn how we can help you feel better and get back to the sport you love.