Evening Times

Facing up to a painful part of competitio­n

SCOTLAND team doctor John MacLean of the Sports Health and Injury Clinic at Hampden continues his series of columns with a discussion on the most common types of facial injury suffered in sport and the most suitable treatment in each case


IT IS amazing how our sports stars make the news even when they are not on the football pitch, tennis court or, in Tiger Woods’ case, the golf course.

Woods was pulled barely conscious from his car and admitted to hospital last week with facial injuries which were not as serious as first reported.

The world No.1 has won 14 major titles and returned to competitio­n this year following major surgery to reconstruc­t the cruciate ligament of his knee.

As you would expect, though, facial injuries are hardly a common occurrence in golf.

The face is one of the most vulnerable areas of the body to suffer a contact injury and probably the least protected.

Sports-related facial injuries account for around 10% of all facial injuries seen in A&E, and around 10-15% of all sports injuries involve the face.

The pattern of injury varies with the sport involved, most likely to be football, rugby, skiing or boxing. SURPRISING­LY, facial injuries in amateur boxing, American football and ice hockey are now less common due to mandatory facial protection, including mouthguard­s.

Soft tissue injuries such as cuts and bruises are the most common types of facial injury and usually result from direct contact with an opponent’s elbow in football or rugby, or being hit by the ball in hockey or an opponent’s glove in boxing.

Many can be treated with simple first aid measures, allowing the player to swelling may mask a more serious underlying injury.

All significan­t facial injuries, including eye injuries, need immediate medical attention as they can be associated with head and spinal damage.

As with all sporting injuries, prevention is the ideal cure. Protective equipment such as helmets, mouth guards, eye protectors and face masks all reduce the incidence of injury.

And while we may never know the true cause of Tiger’s facial injuries, let’s be glad he was not badly injured and will be back on the golf course next year.

National Stadium Sports Health and Injury Clinic is on 0141 616 6161 and www.sportsmedi­cinecentre.org on the web.

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