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Top 5 common injuries on the rugby field

Rugby is fast-paced and high-impact. Much of the game involves tackling an opponent head on and using sheer force to move them out of the way, so it’s no wonder players suffer more than their fair share of trauma injuries.

The upper body, which bears the brunt of the force as players run up against other players, or hit the ground, is unsurprisingly a common site for damage.

As with any sport, you don’t have to be one of the elite players to suffer an injury. Amateur players of all ages are no strangers to the doctors’ surgery, presenting injuries ranging from sprains and strains to more serious dislocations or concussions.

Discover how professional rugby players minimise their risk of injury

1. Concussion

Concussion is a brain injury that can range from mild to severe as a result of the brain being banged against the skull. It has long been the most common injury in Premiership League rugby.

In 2017-18, concussion accounted for 20% of all match injuries.1

All concussions are serious, and you should not return to play until a medical expert has advised you it is safe to do so. You don’t have to be ‘knocked out’ and lose consciousness to suffer from concussion, so be aware of the warning signs such as headache, memory disturbance, dizziness and problems with balance.

2. Sprains and strains

Caused when muscles or ligaments become overstretched when you stop or start suddenly, change direction, or fall or land awkwardly, sprains and strains are one of the most common of all sports injuries.

With these actions being repeated during a match and in training, it’s little surprise that they feature in the list of top rugby injuries. Physiotherapy can help rebuild strength and mobility in overstretched ligaments and muscles, although in severe cases surgery may be required.

3. Dislocated shoulders

Shoulders can become dislocated during a tackle or fall if the arm is rotated outwards. A medical expert should be called to ‘pop’ it back into place, although it is important to ensure that there are no other associated injuries, such as fractures.

After a period of rest, physiotherapy can effectively rebuild shoulder strength and is essential to help reduce the likelihood of future re-injury. Shoulder arthroscopy or other surgery can be carried out on the shoulder to correct more severe damage.

Tips and advice on the best approach to recovering from rugby injuries


4. Overuse injuries

Overuse injuries, such as Bursitis (inflammation of the bursa, which acts like a cushion in the shoulder, elbow, knee and ankle joint) and tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon) are commonly seen in rugby players.

Although not as obviously serious as some of the trauma injuries, if left without appropriate remedy from your doctor or physiotherapist they could lead to worse injury, and even reduced mobility, over time.

5. Slipped disc

Contact sports like rugby are high-risk for neck injury such as a slipped disc (cervical disc prolapse). Repeated stress from tackling gradually breaks down the connective tissue around the discs in the neck.

Without this protective tissue, swelling can occur, pressing on nerve endings and resulting in pain. Your spinal surgeon can advise on treatment options, including whether spinal surgery is necessary.

No matter what level you play at, injuries are an inevitable part of rugby. However, the key to getting back to optimum fitness is knowing exactly how to manage the injury and getting the right treatment at the right time.

At BMI Healthcare, our consultant orthopaedic surgeons are here to help you regain optimum fitness following injury.

Our Sports Injuries Clinics are specialist facilities aimed at professional and amateur sportsmen and women and offer a comprehensive patient-centred service for treatment and rehabilitation using the most up-to-date research based techniques.


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