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3 Hand Injuries Commonly Seen During The Football Season

3 Hand Injuries Commonly Seen During The Football Season

by Erik Krol, MOT, OTR/LLeave a Comment

The fall season is a wonderful time of year for annual traditions. With fall comes back to school, which also means football. Football is a sport that so many people love to rally around, as it offers opportunities for gatherings and helps create an identity for a team, school, and town. That is the beautiful truth about football. Like all sports, the ugly truth is that it can lead to injury. Here are three common upper extremity injuries football players face and the causes for each.

Jersey Finger

With all the education around head injuries and football, a high priority has been placed on proper techniques for tackling. However, it is not uncommon to see a football player holding on to the jersey or garment of their opponent to bring them down successfully. Unfortunately, this type of pulling force can result in what’s known as an avulsion fracture of a flexor tendon in the fingertip. When a flexed digit is forcefully extended (from the pulling force applied to a fleeting opponent’s jersey), it can pull off the bone at its attachment site. This forceful extension of the flexor’s tendon is known as a jersey finger1.

Thumb Injuries

A thumb injury is most likely to occur for quarterbacks or anyone throwing when the extended or abducted thumb hits the top of another player’s helmet or when falling on the ground on the outstretched thumb. In more severe cases, a metacarpal head avulsion fracture occurs when a radial-directed force causes a tear to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). This can sometimes be so forceful that a bony fragment of the thumb also fractures off. This UCL thumb injury is commonly known as skier’s thumb1.

Elbow Injuries

“FOOSH” is a common acronym for falling onto an outstretched hand. This can commonly result in hand, wrist, and elbow injuries. Often, players will try to keep themselves upright by propping themselves with their outstretched hand, or they may fall directly onto the elbow, resulting in the same unfortunate outcome- a radial head fracture of the forearm and elbow. If there simultaneously is a dislocation, then one may experience an elbow ligament injury as well. Each outcome will change the plan of care and treatment1.

Like many others in fast-paced collision sports, these injuries are hard to avoid during competition. Training for injury prevention with resisted exercises, body weight activities, and varying intensity/volume can improve muscle strength and joint stabilization to minimize the physical stressors and help prevent injuries from competition. If you or someone you know is dealing with a hand injury as an athlete, connect with a medical provider or one of our hand therapists today.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

Cooper, C. (2014). Fundamentals of hand therapy: Clinical reasoning and treatment guidelines for common diagnoses of the upper extremity. Elsevier / Mosby.

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About the Author:
Erik J. Krol is a Hand Therapist/Occupational Therapist, father of two, runner, and former college athlete. Erik uses his background education in kinesiology and professional training in hand therapy to provide recommendations on preventing injuries during daily roles and routines. Follow Erik's work and interests in remaining healthy and, more importantly, functional to achieve family, work, and personal goals while combating the environmental and aging challenges.

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