Soccer injuries are becoming more and more prevalent in the top leagues as fixture congestion puts strain on players. This is the case, too, in amateur leagues, with studies showing a rising level of emergency department admissions for soccer-related injuries across the country. As these admissions and injury rates rise, it has become obvious that lesser-known injuries are starting to impact players. With that in mind, it’s important that players are equipped with the knowledge on how to approach their physicians and take corrective action – lowering the chance of re-injury.
Jaw and tooth issues
Most soccer players are no strangers to head and face injuries. The former, head injuries, are especially prevalent; according to Purdue University research, 22% of soccer injuries involve concussion. However, one area that receives less focus are facial and dental injuries stemming from soccer ball injuries. These can cause serious maladjustments of the jaw which then require correction, often from a dental surgeon. One common corrective procedure is orthognathic jaw surgery, which will correct over- and under-bites caused by the impact of the ball after a particularly traumatic hit. Other less traumatic but equally important injuries concern chipped and knocked out teeth, especially if there has been a collision with another player – soccer is, after all, a semi-contact sport. Accordingly, soccer players should ensure they have a good quality dentist; it’s less common to be injured as a result of a ball to the face, but it can occur, and it can be traumatic.
Hidden bone injuries
After a horror collision or tackle, it’s common to see the physical effects of bone breakage. Less obvious are those fractures that happen away from clear action. Indeed, according to one Europe PMC study, micro-fractures and low-level fractures are less common, but can be disastrous for a long-term soccer career, especially for high intensity play. Physicians must be aware of these risks and look for the warning signs and attempt to mediate them during rehabilitation.
Anxiety and depression
Soccer has a sense of machismo around it that has created the need for a stiff upper lip. It is uncommon to see professional soccer players talk frankly about issues of mental health, and the extremely high competitiveness in the average soccer dressing room is often no place for vulnerability. However, this orthodoxy is changing. In recent years, a string of high-profile players have spoken about their mental health conditions, including superstars like France and Juventus’ Paul Pogba. Mental health is important to winning in soccer, but also to all round health – and other injuries can exacerbate underlying issues. A properly structured rehabilitation program will have facilities for helping mental health, and that’s essential.
Soccer can bring with it injuries that don’t seem to make that much of a splash – but can be really difficult in the context of continued play. Having high quality doctors that see them ahead of time, and introduce measures into rehabilitation to counter, is essential.