Bone & Joint

4 Common Football Injuries

Getting hurt while playing football is an unfortunately common occurrence. Our sports medicine team shares some of the injuries that happen most in the sport.

Nov. 8, 2022 5   min read

Every fall, millions of fans cheer for college football and NFL games. Whether it’s the Buffalo Bills taking on the Kansas City Chiefs or Oklahoma State beating Texas, football is a fun and exciting sport.

At the same time, football leads to a wide variety of injuries for players. An estimated 1.2 million football-related injuries are sustained annually, according to research in the National Library of Medicine. Sports medicine physicians and providers are trained specifically to treat these injuries and teach athletes how to prevent them.

Christopher Brown, MD, is the Medical Director for Rochester Regional Health Sports Medicine and describes some of the most common injuries that football players sustain.


With recent league-wide safety protocol changes and NFL quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s multiple head injuries this season, there is a renewed and significant focus on concussions and their short-term and long-term impacts.

There were 187 concussions in NFL preseason and regular season games during the 2021 season, according to NFL data – a number that has been steadily declining over the last decade.

“No matter how a concussion might happen, we want to make sure it is assessed and treated properly,” Dr. Brown said. “Through our concussion management program, we evaluate and plan interventions for each athlete to get them healthy.”

Shoulder injuries

When players are hitting and tackling each other, or falling to the ground, their shoulders take the brunt of the impact. Those movements position players’ arms in ways that aren’t natural.

Two of the most common shoulder injuries are AC (acromioclavicular) joint separation and shoulder dislocation, according to Dr. Brown. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may or may not require surgery.

Knee injuries

Injuries to knee ligaments happen more often in football as compared to other sports.

Two of the more common ligaments are MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprains, which are managed without surgical intervention, and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or meniscus tears, which often require surgery to repair in order for athletes to continue playing.

Sprains and strains

While not as serious as ligament tears or concussions, sprains and strains are painful and equally frustrating injuries to sustain. Sometimes a player will step on another player’s cleats while running or try to juke someone and move the wrong way, resulting in a rolled ankle.

Players also often strain their tendons during some of these same movements. In football, this commonly means players pull their quadriceps, hamstrings, or groin muscles.

Treatment through sports medicine

Sports medicine providers are available to train and care for athletes at all levels.

Over the last 10 years, Rochester Regional Health Sports Medicine physicians and athletic trainers have expanded their reach to provide services for a wide swath of high schools and colleges in Rochester, as well as areas east, west, and south to provide the best possible care for young athletes.

“Athletic trainers and a sports medicine physician are available at many local schools’ sports events to evaluate and treat players. We ensure this is done in a timely and accessible manner so they can be treated appropriately,” Dr. Brown said.

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