11 Common Football Injuries

Football is a rough sport, and despite the helmets, pads, braces, and supports, injuries are a common part of the game. The combination of the size of the players, speed of play, and the physical nature of the game make football injuries quite common.

Football Collision illustration
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Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are the most common type of football injury. Treatment of sprains and strains depends on the severity of the injury, but initially is usually best accomplished by the "​R.I.C.E." method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate).


Fractures account for one-quarter of all serious football injuries (that is, injuries that require hospital care). Commonly fractured bones include those in the finger, wrist, and leg.

Turf Toe

Turf toe is an injury to the base of the big toe. This condition is often caused when the the big toe is hyperextended during pushing off on hard surfaces, such as artificial turf.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition of the tendon in the back of the ankle. In some severe cases, Achilles tendonitis can lead to an increased risk of Achilles tendon rupture.

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are common injuries among football players. Early recognition and treatment of this problem will help speed recovery from ankle ligament injuries.

ACL Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament is the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. Often seen in football players, this injury can sideline an athlete for a season or longer. When seen with an MCL injury and meniscus tear, this is called the "unhappy triad."

Torn Cartilage

What's called a cartilage tear in the knee often refers to a meniscus injury. The meniscus in the knee is made up of two circular pieces of cartilage that both cushion and support the knee joint. A meniscus injury can also be part of the unhappy triad.

Hip Pointer

The diagnosis of a hip pointer means that there is a bone bruise, or possibly a small fracture, of the pelvis. This injury is often caused by a football tackle.


Concussions are caused by a blow to the head and cause some level of impairment of brain function. Symptoms of a concussion may include confusion, short-term memory problems, and loss of consciousness.

Burner or Stinger

The condition called a burner or stinger is common in contact sports, especially football. Burners and stingers are the result of either sudden stretch or compression of the nerves in the brachial plexus. Burners cause pain shooting down the affected arm.

Spine Injuries

Spine injuries are rare, but highly publicized, and can be seen in all levels of football. These injuries are typically seen when defensive players are in the act of tackling.

Injury Treatment

Have you sustained an athletic injury? Many common sports medicine conditions can be effectively treated, and your recovery can progress more quickly—and with better results—with your active participation in therapy. You can help with a speedy recovery by learning how to stretch properly and treat a sprain, and learning more about the role of physical therapy.

4 Sources
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Additional Reading

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.