Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whether Tackle or Touch, Thanksgiving Family Football Can Lead to Injuries

Loyola University Health System Sports Medicine Physician Shares Common Pickup Football Game Injuries

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Whether it’s tackle or touch, the traditional pickup family football game is almost as important as the Thanksgiving dinner itself to many families.

“Getting outside and being active is a great way to burn off extra calories from eating too much pumpkin pie, but it also can lead to injuries,” said Dr. Pietro Tonino, director of Loyola University Health System’s Sports Medicine Program.

Although there is nothing like a little family competition, Tonino says it’s best to leave the heavy hitting to the professionals.

“Be sure to warm up those muscles before hitting the football field and take it easy. Remember, this isn’t the Super Bowl."

Soft-tissue injuries are some of the most common. Tonino shares symptoms to look out for and how to treat minor injuries that can happen on the family backyard field:


Our joints are supported by ligaments. These bands of connective tissue connect one bone to another. A sprain happens when a ligament has been stretched or torn. Your ankles, knees and wrists are the most vulnerable to sprains.

Most sprains heal using the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. If the sprain needs additional medical attention, contact your doctor.


A contusion is a bruise caused by a blow to a muscle, tendon or ligament, which occurs when blood pools around an injury.

Contusions also can be treated with the RICE method. If symptoms persist, contact your doctor to prevent permanent damage to the soft tissues.

Stress Fractures

When a bone is stressed by overuse, tiny breaks in the bone can occur. Symptoms include pain and swelling in the region of the fracture. The bones of the lower leg and foot are prone to stress fractures.

If you believe you have a stress fracture, contact your doctor. These injures are treated by rest, activity modification, cast immobilization and, rarely, surgery.

“The most important thing to remember to avoid injury this Thanksgiving is make sure you take off those muddy shoes before entering the house. There is no coming back from a mom-is-so-mad-her-house-is-muddy injury,” Tonino said jokingly.

For media inquiries, please contact Evie Polsley at epolsley@lumc.edu or call (708) 216-5313 or (708) 417-5100.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.