Read below about soccer injury, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your soccer injury from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Soccer Injury Symptoms

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. Like many other sports injuries are common to it, and the increasing popularity of soccer means there will be an increase in those injuries as well. Soccer is called "football" almost everywhere, except in the United States.

Characteristics:

  • Feeling, and sometimes hearing, a pop in the knee.
  • Immediate pain.
  • Swelling of the injured area, often within minutes.
  • Finding it difficult or impossible to bear weight on an injured foot or leg.
  • The knee or ankle feeling very unstable.
  • Obvious cuts, bruises, and scrapes to any part of the body.

Duration:

  • Some sports injuries will heal with nothing but rest, but most will not. They can worsen and become chronic, sometimes making it impossible to play.

Who is most often affected by soccer injuries?

Anyone who plays can sustain a soccer injury. Most soccer injuries happen to the lower extremities.

  • Males: Ankle sprains, knee ligament sprains and tears, concussion, and hip and groin strains.
  • Females: Knee ligament sprains and tears, concussion, and ankle sprains.
  • Older teenagers & young adults: Knee ligament sprains and tears.
  • Children, especially when going through growth spurts: Injuries to hip muscles and tendons.
  • Anyone with overpronation, meaning the foot tends to roll inward too far with each step.

Are soccer injuries serious?

  • Soreness that resolves quickly with rest is not serious.
  • Injuries that go untreated can become chronic and never really heal.
  • Some fractures and head injuries can be serious or even life-threatening.

Soccer Injury Causes Overview

There are several different causes of soccer injuries. We've listed several of them here, in approximate order from most to least common:

Changing direction quickly, especially with the foot planted in one direction while the player moves in another direction.

  • Sprains to the outer ankle.
  • Twisting of the knee, with sprain or tear of the ligaments.
  • Tear of the cartilage in the knee.
  • Strain or tear of the muscles and tendons anywhere in the foot, ankle, leg, hip, and thigh.

Falls:

  • Falling on the ground, the goal posts, or another player can result in:

    • Concussion.
    • Fracture of any bone.
    • Dislocation of any joint.
    • Bruises.
    • Abrasions.
  • Falling on an outstretched arm can result in:

    • Wrist sprain.
    • Shoulder dislocation.
    • Fracture of any bone in the hand or arm.
  • Landing with the knee hyperextended and locked will force the ligaments backward and may sprain or tear them.

Overuse or training too hard without enough rest between sessions which can result in:

  • Damage to the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments of the knee.
  • Stress fractures, which can happen when the bones become weakened and broken down through overuse and/or poor nutrition.
  • Pain in the shinbone, especially if the feet tend to roll inward too much during running.

Collision with another player:

  • Concussion.
  • Fracture of ribs or any other bones.
  • Sprain or tear of ligaments, usually in the lower extremities.
  • Cuts from cleats on shoes.
  • Bruises.
  • Abrasions.

Heading or striking the ball with the head:

  • Neck sprain.
  • Bruises on the head or face.
  • Concussion rarely occurs from intentional heading.

Heat injury:

  • Soccer is a very active sport involving a lot of running and is typically played in warm weather, which can lead to dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Rare and unusual causes:

  • Sudden cardiac death has been known to occur in soccer, because it is a high-intensity sport with and raises the heart rate for an extended period of time. Sudden cardiac death is a rare event and usually happens with high-school-age players who have an undiagnosed heart condition such as cardiomyopathy.

8 Potential Soccer Injury Causes

  1. 1.Calf Strain

    A strain, commonly called a "pulled muscle," is when a muscle becomes overstretched, and microscopic tears occur. A calf strain happens when one of the muscles on the back of the lower leg is pulled.

    With proper medical attention, this condition should completely resolve.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one calf, moderate calf pain, calf pain, sports injury, soccer injury
    Symptoms that always occur with calf strain:
    pain in one calf
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Meniscal Injury

    A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries. Any activity that causes forceful twisting of the knee, especially when putting the pressure of one's full weight on it, can lead to a torn meniscus.

    6 to 8 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, knee stiffness, knee instability, pain in the inside of the knee, swollen knee
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Concussion Not Needing Imaging

    A traumatic brain injury (TBI), or concussion, happens when a bump, blow, jolt, or other head injury causes damage to the brain. Every year, millions of people in the U.S. suffer brain injuries. More than half are bad enough that people must go to the hospital, and the worst injuries can lead to permanent brain damage or death.

    Most patients with mild brain injury recover within hours to days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, irritability, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with concussion not needing imaging:
    head or face injury
    Symptoms that never occur with concussion not needing imaging:
    recent fall from 6 feet or higher, severe vomiting, posttraumatic amnesia over 30 minutes, slurred speech, fainting, moderate vomiting
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Hamstring Strain

    A strain, commonly called a "pulled muscle," is when a muscle becomes overstretched and tears. A hamstring strain happens when one of the muscles on the back of the upper leg (thigh) is pulled.

    Most low grade strains should recover within 1 week.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    spontaneous back pain, pain in the back of the knee, hamstring tightness, sports injury, hamstring pain
    Symptoms that always occur with hamstring strain:
    hamstring pain
    Symptoms that never occur with hamstring strain:
    groin pain, hip pain, pain in the outside of the hip, difficulty moving the hip
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Soccer Injury Checker

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  5. 5.Knee (Mcl) Sprain

    The medical collateral ligament (MCL) links the thigh bone and the shin bone on the inner side of the knee joint. An MCL sprain is any damage done to this ligament (usually through twisting/force during sports).

    From 2 weeks (first-degree sprains) to between 6 to 8 weeks (second-degree sprains)

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury, knee injury, pain in the inside of the knee, sports injury
    Symptoms that always occur with knee (mcl) sprain:
    pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury
    Symptoms that never occur with knee (mcl) sprain:
    mild knee pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Dislocated Shoulder With Nerve or Artery Damage

    The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. This means the round top of the arm bone fits into the groove in the shoulder blade. A dislocated shoulder is when the entire ball is out of the socket. If the dislocation affects blood supply or a nerve, medical attention is extremely important.

    3-6 weeks with treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, arm weakness, shoulder pain from an injury, severe shoulder pain, arm numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with dislocated shoulder with nerve or artery damage:
    pain in one shoulder, shoulder dislocation
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  7. 7.Knee Sprain (Lcl)

    The LCL is the ligament on the outside of the knee, keeping it from bending away from the body. It is most commonly injured while playing sports (ouch!) when a force is placed on the knee from the inner half of the knee.

    Days to 6-12 months, depending on severity

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury, knee injury, pain in the outside of the knee, sports injury
    Symptoms that always occur with knee sprain (lcl):
    pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury
    Symptoms that never occur with knee sprain (lcl):
    mild knee pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  8. 8.Posterior Cruciate Ligament (Pcl) Injury

    The PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) is located in the back of the knee and connects the big thigh bone (femur) to the big shin bone (tibia). It keeps the tibia from moving backwards. An injury to the PCL requires a huge force, making it much rarer than an ACL tear.

    6-12 months

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    constant knee pain, severe knee pain, pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury, swollen knee
    Symptoms that always occur with posterior cruciate ligament (pcl) injury:
    inability to bear weight immediately after injury, pain in one knee, knee pain from an injury, severe knee pain, constant knee pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Soccer Injury Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if:

  • The player is unconscious and/or having difficulty breathing or seems dazed and confused.
  • The player has sustained an obvious or suspected fracture.
  • The player is unable to walk normally due to severe pain.

Schedule an appointment for:

  • A painful injury that does not improve after a few days of rest and interferes with walking or other normal activities of daily living, besides interfering with playing soccer.
  • Discussion of physical therapy to help restore strength and flexibility once the injury has healed.

Soccer injury remedies that you can try at home:

  • Rest, which means not using the injured part until it has healed.
  • Ice or cold packs to the painful area.
  • Appropriate taping, or use of a brace, while the injury is healing.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen.
  • Research proper diet for athletes, to help strengthen the bones and muscles and therefore prevent injury.
  • Be sure that players are fit and ready before the season starts, and always have them warm up and stretch before each game or practice.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Soccer Injury

  • Q.What is your body mass?
  • Q.Are you having any difficulty walking?
  • Q.Is the pain affecting:
  • Q.About your [shoulder], do you notice any of the following?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our soccer injury symptom checker to find out more.

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Soccer Injury Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced soccer injury have also experienced:

    • 50% Severe Groin Pain
    • 50% Bump on Outside Edge of Big Toe
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

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