Playing football this Thanksgiving? Avoid these common painful injuries

The Thanksgiving holiday brings good food with family and friends, cool weather, and football – lots of football. From college rivalry games, to pro games, or pickup games in the neighborhood, it’s the season for tackling, which often leads to injuries.

Protection can include everything from helmets and pads, to braces. However, even with protection, football is still a rough sport as witnessed each week during season when an injured player is taken off the field.

Even a friendly game of flag football can cause ankle, knee, or back pain due to stress or pressure put on those joints when running or turning quickly.

The most common types of injuries caused by playing football are:

Strains and Sprains

A strain is a torn or overstretched tendon or muscle. Tendon is tough, fibrous tissue that connects a muscle to the bone.

Strains commonly occur in the:

  • knees
  • feet
  • legs, and
  • back

A sprain is when a ligament becomes overstretched or torn. A ligament is also a tough band of tissue and connects bones to cartilage or other bones. Sprains commonly occur in ankles, knees, and wrists.

Many typical activities associated with football, such as twisting or pivoting, running, jumping, throwing, or falling can cause a strain or a sprain. Symptoms include swelling and pain or tenderness in the affected area as well as limited movement of the joint and weakness.

Treatment for a sprain or strain includes the RICE method.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Along with over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

ACL Injury or Meniscus Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament is a major ligament in the knee and is susceptible to tears or over-stretching. Injuries to this ligament are typically caused by activities that involve:

  • sudden stops
  • pivots
  • turning
  • jumping
  • landing
  • direct impact with the knee

Symptoms include severe pain, inability to use the knee normally, swelling, and limited range of motion.

When one of the C-shaped pieces of cartilage that cushions your knee is torn, pain, swelling and stiffness of the knee will result. Often caused by forcefully twisting your knee, a torn meniscus is very common among football players. Rest, ice, and pain relievers may help, otherwise surgery may be necessary.

It’s important to seek immediate care if you suspect you have an ACL injury or torn meniscus. The knee is a complex joint and proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial to a full recovery. Book your appointment with an expert physician at Coastal Orthopedics for a comprehensive exam.

Shoulder Injuries

Taking a direct blow to the shoulder or falling on it can cause serious injury such as a rotator cuff tear, dislocated shoulder, or SLAP tear.

SLAP stands for: Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior

Pain, swelling, and limited range of motion are all symptoms of a shoulder injury. Depending on the type of injury and the severity of the injury will determine whether surgery is necessary for a full recovery.

Back Pain

Twisting, tackling, and torquing that is common in football can sometimes lead to back strain, stress fractures, or even a slipped disc. Usually starting as a dull ache in the low-to-mid-back area, back pain can become more severe over time leading to chronic back pain.

If rest or physical therapy does not alleviate the pain after a few weeks, then see your orthopedic specialist right away for diagnosis and treatment. 

Football isn’t just dangerous for the players, though, fans can suffer from injury as well! Die-hard football fans who sit all day watching games are at an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and back pain. Stress is also a concern as you watch your team get ahead, fall behind, then get ahead again. This type of emotional roller coaster for those who are overly involved in the game can cause health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, or other medical concerns.

It’s important to remember that football is still just a game. Take a break from watching by standing up and going for a short walk. If you decide to engage in a friendly pick-up game of football, don’t overexert yourself and only play if you are already in fairly good shape and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

– Advice from Coastal Orthopedics’ expert physicians

Still, accidents and injuries do happen. Either from a sports-related injury or from chronic inflammation due to wear and tear over time, if you experience pain in your back, neck, hip, or shoulder, make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist immediately. Serious injuries may require total joint replacement surgery, which is a common procedure now with a high success rate for a full recovery.

Click here to learn more about common holiday related injuries.

The orthopedic physicians at Coastal Orthopedics of Bradenton/Sarasota are experts at helping patients with orthopedic problems. Through pain management, rehabilitation, or surgery, they help alleviate pain caused by injury or other issues that affect the joints, bones, ligaments, nerves, tendons, and muscles. Don’t let pain keep you from living life to the fullest. Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today! Call 941-792-1404 or request an appointment online.