Physiotherapy Wellbeing & Fitness

The Most Common Rugby Injuries and How to Treat Them

Written by Mr Charles Willis-Owen for Doctify

As any rugby fans will know, the game can be brutal and the pain can last. Half the fun of watching is the physical clashes between the players; intense scrums, ruthless tackles and bold sprints across the line. But whether you’re the fly-half for the All Blacks or merely playing in a local league, the potential for injury can be high. With the season over, now is the time to attend to any sprains, strains or tears.

Here to tell us a little more about rugby injuries and how they can best be treated is Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Charles Willis-Owen.

What are the most common rugby injuries?

Needless to say, rugby is a tough collision sport and injuries are common. Head injuries, shoulder injuries and knee injuries are particularly common. As a knee surgeon, it is the knee injuries I see most and ligament injuries in particular that need the most attention.

What should you do as a first response with a rugby injury?

For a significant knee injury, the first response should be to stop play and apply ice and compression to control the swelling. If it is a minor injury, it will settle within a few days. If there is a lot of swelling the next day, or the knee is painful and unstable in the next few days then it is worth seeking advice.

What are the treatments for these injuries?

Most knee injuries just need rest and physio, some ligament injuries (medial ligament)  need careful treatment in a brace for 6  weeks to let the torn ligament heal. Some injuries such as cartilage tears or ACL ruptures need surgery. The important thing is to work out the right course of action early on, or the opportunity for natural healing can be lost!

How long is the recovery?

  • A simple knee sprain can just need a week or two off
  • A medial ligament injury can need 6 weeks in a brace then two more weeks to get back
  • An ACL injury can put someone out for a whole season!

What are the best surgical rehab exercises?

This depends a lot on the injury. A good sports physio, guided by a knee surgeon would be the safest option to make things go smoothly. In general, quadriceps and hamstrings strengthening is likely to help along with balance drills. After a knee injury the bodies joint position sense is often impaired. Proprioceptive training can be really useful to prevent re-injury.



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