Author(s): Chang WR, Ka pasi Z, Daisley S, Leach WJ
Background Football is officially the most popular sport in the world. In the UK, 10% of the adult population play football at least once a year. Despite this, there are few papers in the literature on tibial diaphyseal fractures in this sporting group. In addition, conflicting views on the nature of this injury exist. The purpose of this paper is to compare our experience of tibial shaft football fractures with the little available literature and identify any similarities and differences.
Methods and Results A retrospective study of all tibial football fractures that presented to a teaching hospital was undertaken over a 5 year period from 1997 to 2001. There were 244 tibial fractures treated. 24 (9.8%) of these were football related. All patients were male with a mean age of 23 years (range 15 to 29) and shin guards were worn in 95.8% of cases. 11/24 (45.8%) were treated conservatively, 11/24 (45.8%) by Grosse Kemp intramedullary nail and 2/24 (8.3%) with plating. A difference in union times was noted, conservative 19 weeks compared to operative group 23.9 weeks (p < 0.05). Return to activity was also different in the two groups, conservative 27.6 weeks versus operative 23.3 weeks (p < 0.05). The most common fracture pattern was AO Type 42A3 in 14/24 (58.3%). A high number 19/24 (79.2%) were simple transverse or short oblique fractures. There was a low non-union rate 1/24 (4.2%) and absence of any open injury in our series.
Conclusion Our series compared similarly with the few reports available in the literature. However, a striking finding noted by the authors was a drop in the incidence of tibial shaft football fractures. It is likely that this is a reflection of recent compulsory FIFA regulations on shinguards as well as improvements in the design over the past decade since its introduction.