One of the less severe injuries a player may experience is a strain. A strain means that the tendon, a thick band of fibrous tissue which connects a bone to a muscle, has been stretched beyond its normal capacity. Tears occur in this tissue and vary in degrees of severity from a small incomplete tear which may require I.C.E. (Ice, Compression, Elevation), to a larger complete tear which may require surgical repair. Strains can occur in any joint, most commonly the ankle, knee, shoulder and wrist.
Another somewhat common injury some players sustain is a damaged ACL or anterior cruciate ligament. Ligaments are similar in make-up to tendons, except that they connect one bone to another bone. The ACL is the anterior, or front-most, ligament located inside the knee which connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). When this ligament is stretched beyond its capacity, it can be torn so severely that surgical repair is necessary.
Another common injury that you may see in football games is a muscle cramp. Muscle cramps are generally thought to occur when nerves in our muscles become extremely active and cause an involuntary contraction of the muscle, while not allowing the muscle to relax. While there are many reasons a cramp can occur, if a football player suffers from a cramp it is most likely due to dehydration or vitamin deficiency. This is why you may hear of or see football players taking intravenous fluids prior to playing a game. While cramps can occur during any weather condition, special attention should be paid to muscle cramps during hot weather, as this can be an early sign of heat stroke.
One last injury that players may suffer from during a football game is one that was just mentioned in the previous description of muscle cramps: dehydration. While there are different types of dehydration that we don’t have time to discuss here, the most likely type that a football player may experience is known as isotonic dehydration, which involves an extreme loss of water and essential vitamins and minerals necessary for the body to engage in physical activity. Symptoms of dehydration include dark urine, dry mouth, and headaches, but most athletes don’t realize they are dehydrated until they get light headed or faint. Sometimes simply drinking sufficient fluids will correct dehydration, while some extreme cases may require hospitalization to administer IV fluids as well as frequent monitoring of vital vitamin and mineral levels.
While this is not an all inclusive list of possible football injuries, I hope that perhaps when you see a player requiring medical attention in the future, you’ll have a fair understanding of what they might have been diagnosed with.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or email@example.com.