AFL Injuries

AFL Injuries

Australian Rules Football (AFL) is known for its high level of physical body contact. These high impact collisions can occur from any direction. Players typically wear no protective padding of any kind except for a mouth guard. As such, impact injury rates tend to be high.

Soft tissue injuries are the most frequent, including injuries to the hamstring, quadriceps and calf muscles.

Full contact play with the potential to be tackled or bumped from any angle means that the risk of a knee being twisted or caught on a dangerous angle is high. Injuries to the knee, ankle and shoulder joints are common.

Hamstring strain is the most common AFL player injury.

AFL Injury Statistics

The following injury statistics have been drawn from the AFL 2015 season injury report:

  • During the 2015 AFL season, there was an average of 37.7 new injuries per team causing 156.2 home & away and finals games to be missed.
  • Hamstring injuries continue to be the number one injury concern (with an average of 5.2 new injuries causing 19.1 games missed per team). The overall incidence and prevalence of hamstring injuries was about average against historical data. Recurrence rates however remain relatively low (16%), reflecting improved understanding (particularly of intra-muscular tendon injuries) and/or more conservativemanagement.
  • Calf strains (with an average of 2.9 new injuries causing 5.9 games missed per team) continue to track above the historical average, although injury rates and severity remain below the high observed in season 2013 (3.7 new injuries causing 10.6 games missed per club). This is likely to represent improved conditioning strategies and/or management.
  • Groin injuries, which were once the third most common injury and cause of games missed in the AFL, remain low (with an average of 2.2 new cases of “groin strain or osteitis pubis” causing 7.1 games missed per team). This reflects improved prevention and management of groin injuries in the AFL.
  • ACL injury rates were on par with historical averages (with an average of 0.7 injuries causing 16.7 games missed per team).
  • Rates of leg and foot stress fractures returned to levels observed in the past after an increase in recent seasons (with an average of 0.7 injuries causing 8.6 missed games per year in season 2015). The reason for these change is unclear.
  • Rates of concussions causing missed games continue the trend up (with 1.5 new injuries causing 4.2 missed games per team). This reflects a more conservative approach, rather than a true increase in incidence. The incidence rate from the AFL concussion audit (which includes all concussions, whether they missed games or not) was 6.0 per 1000 player hours (95% confidence interval 4.39-7.65), compared to the rate of 7.1 (95% CI 6.28-7.84) observed over the past 5 years. When expressed in similar figures to the AFL Injury Survey i.e.40 players for 22games –the incidence figure would be 5.3 new injuries per team in 2015, with the 5-year concussion rate at 6.2 new injuries per team per year.
  • There is a notable increase in “other” injuries in a number of categories (e.g.“leg/foot/ankle” and “hip/groin/thigh”). The cause of this is not clear, but is likely to reflect an interpretation/classification issue rather than a significant change in specific injury types.

Every year the AFL monitors injury rates and attempts to modify the rules in the best interest of player welfare.

Arm Pain Causes

Arm pain and injuries are widespread. Arm pain can occur as a result of either sudden, traumatic or repetitive overuse. The causes can be related to sports injuries, work injuries or simply everyday arm use.

Arm pain can be a local injury, musculoskeletal injury or could even be referred from nerves in your neck (cervical radiculopathy). This can result in neck-arm pain.

Causes of Arm Pain by Region

Causes of Arm Pain by Structure

Neck-Related Arm Pain

Shoulder-Related Arm Pain

Elbow-Related Arm Pain

Wrist-Related Arm Pain

Hand-Related Arm Pain

Muscle-Related Arm Pain

Other Sources of Arm Pain

Common Causes of Arm Pain

The most common sources of arm pain include shoulder painwrist pain and elbow pain.

Referred Arm Pain

As mentioned earlier, arm pain can be referred to from another source. Cervical radiculopathy is a common source of referred arm pain. Cervical radiculopathy will not respond to treatment where you feel the arm pain. However, it will respond positively to treatment at the source of the injury (e.g. your neck joints).

Professional assessment from a health practitioner skilled in diagnosing both spinal-origin and local-origin (muscle and joint) injuries (e.g. your physiotherapist) is recommended to ensure an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment directed at the arm pain source.

Arm Pain has Diverse Causes.

The causes of your arm pain can be extensive and varied. Due to this diversity, your arm pain should be assessed by a suitably qualified health practitioner to attain an accurate diagnosis, treatment plan and implementation specific to your arm pain.

What Arm Pain is Associated with a Heart Attack?

Left-arm pain can be an early sign of a life-threatening cardiac issue. Based on this, a professional medical assessment that involves an accurate history, symptom analysis, physical examination and diagnostic tests to exclude a potential heart attack is important to exclude this potentially life-threatening source of arm pain.

For more information, please consult with your health practitioner, call an ambulance on 000, or visit a hospital emergency department to put your mind at ease.

Good News. Most Arm Pain is NOT Life-Threatening.

Luckily, life-threatening arm pain is far less likely than a local musculoskeletal injury. Arm pain caused by a localised arm muscle, tendon or joint injury should be assessed and confirmed by your health practitioner before commencing treatment.

Arm Pain Prognosis

The good news is that arm pain, and injury will normally respond very favourably to medical or physiotherapy intervention when early professional assessment and treatment is sought. Please do not delay in consulting your healthcare practitioner if you experience arm pain.

Common Arm Pain Treatments

With accurate assessment and early treatment, most arm injuries respond extremely quickly to physiotherapy or medical care, allowing you to resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living quickly.

Please ask your physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice.