Send Madden, Theismann, and the rest back to school….


Send Madden, Theismann, and the rest back to school….Injury classification- An overview 

I am still amazed at the ignorance when sports commentators report on injuries. Granted the average person out there really doesn’t know the difference between a sprain and strain, or the difference between a dislocation and separation, nor should they actually. However, it is my opinion that commentators truly should know. Most of them have played the sport or at least been around sports for years and should know the difference.

With the speed at which information gets passed around the internet, I see false information being posted all over the place about someone’s injury status like it is gospel, just because a favorite football commentator said it. Also, numerous people are involved in fantasy leagues and correct information is essential to them. Besides, its never bad to know things.

With that said, even if John Madden calls a dislocation a separation, or Theismann thinks a fracture and a contusion are the same thing (he of all people should know the difference) the viewer will never know whether he is right or not unless you know what to look for.

So, I thought I would offer up a quick, very basic overview on injury classification. At the very least you can use this article to look smarter in front of your friends if someone you know ever gets injured or you hear a mistake being made during the next Monday night football game (which there will be tons of this year, by the way…Theismann….nuff said)


1.      Contusions – This is simply a bruise. Usually from a sudden traumatic blow to the body. Can range from superficial to deep hemorrhage. Usually happens to muscle but can see a deep bone contusion too. These can be more serious than people think. So the next time you hear about your favorite player having a contusion or bruise, don’t just think he is being a sissy for not playing. It might be worse than you think.

2.      Strains – A stretch, tear, or rip in the muscle or muscle tendon and many times the tissue that surrounds the muscle. Happens most commonly from an abnormal muscular contraction.  

  •  Can be a small separation of connective tissue

  •  A complete rupture of the tendon (graded as first, second, or third degree)

  • The result is similar to a contusion, with blood vessel hemorrhage.

This is more commonly known as a “PULL”. If you hear about someone pulling a muscle, it is the same as a strain. The term strain and sprain are mixed up all of the time. Strains always deal with muscles and tendons, and sprains always deal with joints and ligaments.

3.Muscle Cramps and spasms

·        A cramp is a painful, involuntary contraction of a skeletal muscle or muscle group. They are attributed to lack of salt or other minerals, and to muscle fatigue. (Drink your Gatorade when exercising hard!!). When you see a player on the field freaking out while some one is stretching his calf, chances are he has a cramp. Happens in very hot, humid conditions, and cold conditions too.

·        A Spasm is a reflex reaction caused by trauma of the musculoskeletal system. These can also happen from over activation of a muscle or muscle group. Many people will have spasms in their neck, or upper back…But quite a few people have them all over their body in various places.

4.      Tendinitis – Overuse to the tendon. Inflammation of the tendon. Rare in most people, although most people think they suffer from tendinits all of the time.

5.      Tendinosis – More likely the problem in people with tendon issues. This is a certain pathology of the tendon tissues brought on by overuse. Most people that suffer tendon problems have tendinosis not tendinitis. Tendinosis can take a few long weeks to clear up totally. A good corrective rehab plan is a must here. Anti-inflammatory meds don’t usually help with this condition, so put away the Advil.

6.      Atrophy   Muscle atrophy is wasting away of muscle tissue. This is caused mainly by immobilization, inactivity, or loss of nerve stimulation  This is when your muscle shrinks. Some people atrophy just by sitting on the couch day after day and doing nothing more than pressing the remote control. Usually you see this on the affected limb after a cast is removed.

Joint Injuries

1. Sprains – A sprain is when you stretch or tear the stabilizing connective tissue (ligaments and/or joint capsule) 

  •  Sprains can be classified like strains with first, second, and third degree.

2. Subluxations and Dislocations

  • Subluxations – are partial dislocations in which an incomplete separation between two articulating bones (joint) occurs.

  • Dislocations – This is a total disunion the bones that make up a joint. Example would be if the long bone in the upper arm (humerus) became totally independent of the shoulder blade (glenoid – scapula).

  • Separation – usually happens in the shoulder. It is a separation between the acromion process (bony tip of your shoulder) and the end of the clavicle (end of your collar bone). Separated and dislocated shoulders are totally different things. This is one of the things that most commentators seem to screw up.

3. Bursitis– Inflammation of the bursa. Most joints have bursa sacs that help lubricate the joints. These areas can become inflamed and cause pain and discomfort.

Bone Injuries

1. Fractures

  • Acute Fractures – This is also known as a break. This is when the structure of the bone is compromised or disrupted.

  • Avulsion Fractures – Separation of a bone fragment from its attachment at a ligament or tendon. This is when a piece of bone gets pulled away from its source. These happen from ankle sprains quite often.

  • Blow Out Fractures – Occur to the wall of the eye orbit as a result of a blow to the eye.

  • Stress Fractures – overuse. Can be caused from many things. Rhythmic muscle action performed over a period of time. This is a small stress fracture line found in the bone. Usually seen in the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula), and also the upper leg bone (femur). Mostly occurs in long distance runners, but can occur in any sport that requires running.

2. Bone Bruise  – Contusion of the covering of the bone (periosteum) Usually occurs from a very hard, direct blow to the bone and/ or muscle. These are deep bruises and can put someone down and out for a long time. Extremely painful and need to be padded and cared for.

So remember, the next time one of your not so favorite commentators offers up an explaination about a player’s injury, question it first before you take their word for it. Through my experience, more likely than not they are wrong.

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