We explain some of the most common injuries that occur among professional sports.
Every fantasy season, owners find themselves scrambling to find short and long-term replacements for injured players. The following is a summary of common football injuries, which will be useful this coming fantasy season. We include a definition of injury and the average recovery time.
AC Shoulder Separation
The acromioclavicular joint is where the collarbone attaches to the shoulder. A separation at this juncture involves the stretching (first-degree), partial tearing (second-degree), or complete tearing (third degree) of the ligaments which hold these bones together. A first-degree separation can take 7-10 days to heal, a second-degree separation usually takes between 2 and 3 weeks for recovery, and a third-degree separation can take as long as 3 months to fully heal.
The Achilles tendon attaches the muscles of the lower leg (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel. Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of this tendon generally caused by overuse or a direct blow. This injury is usually curable in about 4-6 weeks with proper treatment.
This is a type of surgery that is minimally invasive and involves the examination and sometimes treatment of damage to the internal aspects of a joint. An arthroscope is inserted through a small incision, generally to assess the severity of or repair torn cartilage, knee ligament injury, or other joint injury. The advantage of this type of surgery is that it does not require opening the joint fully, which reduces recovery time due to less trauma to the surrounding tissues.
Collateral Ligament Injury
The collateral ligaments, medial collateral (MCL) and lateral collateral (LCL) act to prevent excessive sideways bending of the knee joint. These ligaments are injured when the knee joint is forced inward (MCL injury) or forced outward (LCL injury). These injuries are also categorized as first, second, and third-degree, with recovery time ranging between 6-12 weeks.
Cruciate Ligament Injury
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) attach the thighbone (femur) to the shinbones (fibula and tibia) acting to stabilize the knee joint. The ACL and PCL can be injured primarily by rotational forces on the knee. ACL and PCL sprains are categorized as first, second, and third-degree. Injuries to the cruciate ligaments can take 3-12 months to heal depending upon severity.
A concussion is caused by a direct blow to the head. Depending upon the severity of the concussion, injury can cause varying levels of impairment of brain function. Concussions are categorized as mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2), or severe (grade 3) depending upon symptoms. The recovery time for a concussion varies by individual athlete. The rule of thumb is that an athlete should not resume activity until symptoms have subsided.
A contusion is basically a deep bruise that is caused by direct impact. In football we generally hear about quadricep (thigh) contusions. Usually, contusions do not sideline an athlet– if they start to manage the injury immediately.
A dislocation occurs when the ball of a joint is forced out of its socket (i.e. arm forced out of the shoulder joint). A dislocation must be reset by proper medical professionals.
A fracture is a break, crack, or shattering of a bone. In closed fractures, the broken bone does not pierce the skin, while in open fractures, the broken bone breaks the skin’s surface. The recovery time for fractures varies.
High Ankle Sprain
A high ankle sprain involves stretching or tearing of the large ligament (sydesmotic ligament) that joins together the two bones of the lower leg (fibula and tibia). High ankle sprains do not heal as quickly as low sprains and are generally managed by applying an air cast for about 6 weeks.
A hip pointer is a contusion of the frontal portion of the hipbone. This type of injury is caused by direct impact to this area. Hip pointers are painful injuries that are often difficult to manage because of the constant stress on this area due to the strength of the thigh muscles, which attach to the hip at this area. Hip pointers can take between 1-3 weeks for recovery.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The IT band is a tendon that attaches the hip to the knee joint, providing stability. IT band syndrome occurs when this tendon rubs against the outer knee joint and produces inflammation. IT band injuries are caused by overuse or improper conditioning and can take 5 days to 6 months to resolve.
The medial and lateral menisci are the cartilage shock absorbers located inside the knee joint. These can be damaged by excessive twisting, turning, or compression at the knee joint, which produces tears. Due to the poor blood supply, meniscal injuries generally require surgery for repair. Athletes can generally return to action 4-8 weeks following surgery.
This is an injury that involves the stretching, partial tearing, or complete rupture of a ligament. Sprains are categorized as first, second, or third degree. In football, the most common sprain is to the hamstrings.
A stinger or burner as it can also be called, is a very common injury in football. This injury involves a stretch or compression of the brachial plexus (a complex system of nerves that involve the back, neck, shoulders, and arms). Stingers generally cause shooting pain down the arm(s). This type of injury requires various amounts of recovery time.
Strains are injuries that involve the stretching, partial tearing, or complete tearing of a tendon. Strains are categorized as first, second, or third degree.
A subluxation is similar to a dislocation in that a force causes a ball and socket joint to become disjointed. However, in the case of a subluxation, the injured joint will pop out and then back in, not requiring it to be put back into place.
A metatarsal-phalangeal sprain, or turf toe, is an injury caused by a toe being hyper-extended. This injury is generally suffered while playing on rigid sport surfaces, such as artificial turf and usually occurs in the big toe. Turf toe is a common, nagging injury that many running backs deal with. Recovery time varies.
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