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Read on for part two of our common football injuries blog and how physical therapy can make all the difference in healing.

Ankle Sprains and Strains

Just behind knee injuries are ankle injuries–sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations–as the third most common high school football injury. Sprains and strains are much more common, however. An ankle sprain occurs when a ligament in the ankle is stretched or torn. A strain happens when a tendon or muscle tissue is stretched or torn. These types of injuries occur quite often in many sports that involve a high level of running, cutting, and jumping–including football.

How It Can Happen: Just about everyone on the football field is running on every play, especially the offensive skill positions such as running back and wide receiver, and on defense with cornerbacks and safeties, and this lends itself to frequent ankle sprains and twists. Additionally, you have large offensive and defensive linemen as well as linebackers and tight ends battling it out at the line of scrimmage on just about every play, and this often results in players toppling over one another–and occasionally into someone’s lower leg, which can cause an ankle injury.

Symptoms: If you’ve sustained an ankle sprain or strain, you’ll likely experience symptoms such as pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling, instability, and limited range of motion.

Treatment: For most ankle injuries, the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) does well in alleviating the pain and swelling. Physical therapy can also help you get back on your feet after an ankle injury. At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, we’ll create an exercise program specifically for your ankle pain so you can regain strength and restore flexibility.

Shoulder Separations and Dislocations/Rotator Cuff Tears

How many times have you watched a football game and seen a player jog to the sideline with one arm hanging limply at his side, the other hand often clutching at the injured shoulder. That player most likely suffered a shoulder dislocation or separation, or another shoulder injury such as a rotator cuff tear. A shoulder dislocation occurs when the humerus (your upper arm bone) ball disassociates from the scapular socket. A shoulder separation happens when the ligaments attached to the collarbone partially or completely tear away from the shoulder blade. For rotator cuff tears, there are partial tears when the tendon is not completely detached from the bone, and complete tears when the tendon is torn away from the bony attachment.

How It Can Happen: In football, shoulder injuries such as these often occur when either tackling an opposing player, being tackled by an opposing player, or violently colliding with the ground, with the shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. With rotator cuff tears, quarterbacks can often be the victims due to the repeating throwing motion and overuse of the arm. QBs are also especially vulnerable when being sacked, as they’re often driven to the ground from a stationary position by a defender who is charging at him with speed and force.

Symptoms: With shoulder separations and dislocations, symptoms often include severe pain, grinding, limited movement, and a visible deformity. Rotator cuff tear symptoms include pain when lifting your arm from your side, shoulder weakness, a snapping feeling when trying to move your arm, and pain that grows worse at night.

Treatment: Shoulder separations and dislocations are often visible to the naked eye. If there’s a dislocation, a doctor or team athletic trainer should treat it immediately–and it’s not fun. The doctor or athletic trainer will need to move the arm bone back into the shoulder socket as quickly as possible so the joint doesn’t further swell or become even more painful. Once the arm bone has been repositioned into the socket, some pain will be alleviated.

To treat a shoulder dislocation (after it’s been popped back into place) and a separation, use plenty of ice treatment to help reduce the swelling and pain. From there, the arm should be immobilized to prevent further injury and promote healing; a sling is generally provided. In addition, anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as ibuprofen) may help, as will rest.

For partial rotator cuff tears, you can use a similar approach to treatment. However, a complete tear will not heal on its own and generally requires surgery to regain full range of motion and function.

At Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, we deal with high school football-related injuries all the time–especially this time of year. Our experienced team knows how to get you back on your feet–and back on the gridiron again–quickly and safely. After you’ve seen your doctor, call us at (214) 225-0291 to set up your initial appointment. We’ll examine your injury and work with you to create the perfect treatment plan for your football injury.


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