Though the soccer athlete may not be at risk for overuse injuries to the upper extremities, a traumatic event such as collision with another player or the ground could result in an acute injury to the shoulder. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the injury, it usually requires a longer time period for healing and recovery. Injuries soccer athletes may suffer from a collision include shoulder dislocation, subluxation or a fractured or broken bone.
A common injury seen in the soccer athlete is an acromioclavicular (AC) joint subluxation or separation due to a direct blow to the shoulder. There are six types of AC joint separations with anything beyond type three requiring surgical intervention. An on field evaluation will help to determine the severity of injury and will most likely result in immobilization of the shoulder. In order to allow adequate time for healing of the injured structures, initial stages of physical therapy will include rest and ice followed by a specific stretching and strengthening program. During this time, specific shoulder motions could re-injure the healing ligament which the athlete should be cautious of during performance of daily activities such as dressing or combing hair.
Another acute injury the soccer athlete may suffer from is a clavicular fracture, or broken collarbone as a result of forceful impact to the shoulder or a fall onto the ground. If there is a break in the collarbone the athlete will require care from a physician and an X-ray in order to determine amount of displacement. Bone healing requires anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks of inactivity in order to allow the bone to set properly following which the athlete will be prescribed a protocol to restore normal range of motion and strength in order to return to full sport activity.
When returning to sport, a soccer athlete's position must be considered following a shoulder injury due to the different upper body demands. With this in mind, specific exercises, activities, and drills should be performed pain free in the rehab setting before returning to sport.