Soccer season is in full swing and I've seen a few players with injuries recently. No one likes to get injured during a soccer match. However, injuries are common occurrence, ranging from minor scratches to bruises to more severe injuries, such as concussions and head injuries.
Below are five common soccer injuries, they are not in order of frequency of occurrence.
An ACL injury is one of the most severe injuries sustained in playing soccer. The injury usually occurs as the 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 physical examination (the Lachman test) can be challenging.
An MRI is highly accurate in diagnosing an 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, and gait re-education. Post-op physiotherapy also enables a safe and early return to soccer.
Soccer requires a lot of running and frequent change of direction, which can cause the muscles around the groin area to be pulled and strained. Pain can be felt when bringing your legs together or raising your knee. There is tenderness over the groin and inside of the thigh. Early pain relief and rest can help the player return to the game soon afterwards.
A sprained ankle is probably one of the most common soccer related injuries. It happens when the foot is rolled in (inversion) and pointing downwards (plantar flexion). Symptoms include swelling, pain, bruising and difficulty walking. Sometimes an x-ray is warranted to rule out a broken bone (fracture). Following a sprained ankle, assessment and treatment by a physiotherapist will reduce symptoms and enable an early return to training and competition.
Hamstrings can be injured during sprinting or powerful kicking. The three hamstrings originate from the pelvis region, across the hip joint, before attaching to the lower leg (tibia) and fibula. When the hamstrings are 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, and pain over the back of the thigh while walking or bending over. A physiotherapist will be able to ascertain the extent and severity of the hamstrings injury and provide appropriate advice and treatment to get the player back on field as soon as possible.
Sometimes a fracture in the tibia and fibula occurs when there is a direct blow to the lower leg. Severe pain and inability to bear weight 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 a good recovery with functional activities.
In some occasions, a stress fracture in the metatarsal bones of the foot can occur as the result of repetitive stress and motion to the area. Swelling, bruising, pain and the loss of function are symptoms associated with a stress fracture. The goals of treatment are pain relief and immobilisation, to allow the bone to heal.
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Enjoy your soccer game!