This survey of professional football players in Australia has shown that tendon problems, particularly Achilles and patellar tendinopathy, are much more common that previously reported.
This study has investigated the reported incidence of Achilles and patellar tendon injuries in a cohort of male professional (Australian rules) football players using the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre (OSTRC) overuse questionnaire. The previously reported incidence of tendon problems in football, based on a traditional match-loss system of reporting, has been quite low. The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre (a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence) overuse injury questionnaire was developed and validated to improve the recording and quantification of overuse injuries. It involves four multiple- choice questions aim to quantify the impact of an injury on athletes’ participation, training volume, performance, and pain.
The results of this study suggest that tendinopathy may be much more common than previously reported. Between 20 and 25% of all players reported experiencing tendon pain during a single season (as recorded using the OSTRC) compared with 4.1% of players missing a game due to a tendon problem. A greater prevalence of both Achilles and patellar tendon pain was observed during the pre-season than in-season. It was proposed that this might be due to higher running loads as well as the sudden re-introduction of load during a period of unloading during the summer break. Older and taller athletes were also more likely to report pain.
The findings of this study may allow clinicians to better identify those at risk of tendon injury and to have a greater awareness of the possible impact of tendon problems. A carefully managed pre-season, especially for older players, may reduce the risk of developing tendinopathy. The authors note that in-season treatment of tendinopathy is often not successful and speculate that more aggressive treatment of these problems in the off-season might improve outcomes.
Docking SI, Rio E, Cook J et al. The prevalence of Achilles and patellar tendon injuries in Australian Football players beyond a time-loss definition.
Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2018 Mar 23. doi: 10.1111/sms.13086.