How To Identify And Treat Sprains And Strains From Playing Football

While you may love playing football, everybody knows it's a rough sport that can cause severe injury. Common sprains and muscle strains are often experienced by football players, but even though the injury is common doesn't mean it's not serious. Here is some information on muscle strains and sprains, and how a sports medicine specialist can help treat you.

Sprains and Muscle Strain Basics

A sprain is usually characterized as an injury to your ligament, which is the tissue that connects your bones together with other bones. On the other hand, a strain is an injury to tendons or muscles, which can be torn in some cases or simply stretched too hard. With these types of injuries, you should travel to the doctor's office as soon as possible for treatment.

You can suffer sprains and muscle strains in a variety of areas, with the ankles, knees, and wrist being particularly prone to these injuries while playing football. The symptoms of a muscle sprain or strain can be quite obvious, with severe pain, inflammation and difficulty putting weight on the injured area. However, other symptoms can also arise, such as numbness that radiates outward from the affected point.

Sprains and strains are listed from Grade I to Grade III, with a Grade I usually representing light damage that takes two to three weeks to heal. Grade II is moderate injury but not a complete tear or snapped ligament. Grade III is the most serious and may need extensive treatment and rehabilitation, with healing often taking 3 months or more.

Treatment Options

A sports medicine doctor can employ a number of methods to treat these two injuries, but the most common method is simply referred to as RICE, which means rest, ice, compression and elevation. As a part of this, you may receive crutches, splints, special wrappings, or guards for the damaged area. For lighter injuries, this treatment is usually sufficient for full healing, but you should still see a doctor to rule out a broken bone and have the area stabilized.  

For more serious injuries, surgery might be required, but it's often considered best to let natural healing take its course unless the injury is very severe or not healing properly. Ultimately, it's important to speak with your physicians about the pros and cons of surgery before making a decision.

After you have had adequate rest, a physical therapist or doctor will work with you to build a fitness plan. This plan will likely include simple stretches, range of motion exercises, and other methods to reduce stiffness and restore you back to health. It's important to work slowly to rebuild muscle strength, as too much strain can set you back significantly.

Ultimately, a sprain and strain can be a serious problem for football players, but don't let it stop you from enjoying the sport you love. If you have an injury, a sports medicine doctor, such as Interior Alaska Orthopedic & Sports Medicine, can work with you to get you back on the field and on with your life.