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Do Niggles Matter? - Increased injury risk following physical complaints in football (soccer)

PainSci » bibliography » Whalan et al 2020
Tags: etiology, injury, strain, fun, pro, pain problems, muscle

Two articles on PainSci cite Whalan 2020: 1. Sports Injury Prevention Tips2. The Complete Guide to Muscle Strains

PainSci commentary on Whalan 2020: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

Minor physical complaints — “niggles” — may be warning signs of more serious athletic injuries. This study surveyed 218 players over a season, and found that their niggles caused at least triple the risk of a more serious injury over the next week. In any given week, about a quarter of players had a complaint that did not prevent their participation.

Research wish list: it would be great to study the link between minor complaints that crop up during competition, and the risk of greater injury. That is, does a new in-game “niggle,” or a flare-up of an existing one, increase the risk of imminent injury? But that's a tougher experiment. You'd have to define "warning sign" quite carefully, and then get a lot of athletes to agree to either heed them or ignore them in competition! Tough data to get. But my hypothesis, which I'd love to test, is that many serious injuries are preceded by clear warning signs, and could be prevented if you immediately backed off.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and impact of non-time loss injuries in semi-professional football.

METHODS: 218 players completed the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre (OSTRC) Questionnaire on Health Problems weekly during the 2016 season (35 weeks), recording the prevalence and impact of time loss (TL) and non-time loss (non-TL) injuries. TL injury and exposure were also collected by a third party as per the Football Consensus statement. The relative risk (RR) of a TL injury within 7 days of a self-reported non-TL injury was determined, with associated predictive power calculated.

RESULTS: The risk of TL injury was 3.6 to 6.9 × higher when preceded by ‘minor’ and ‘moderate’ non-TL complaints, respectively, and good predictive power (22.0–41.8%) was observed (AUC range = 0.73 to 0.83). Compliant responders (80% of completed OSTRC questionnaires) showed a mean self-reported weekly injury prevalence (TL and non-TL combined) of 33% (95% CI – 31.4% to 34.6%) with 28% (CI – 26.4% to 29.6%) attributed to non-TL injury.

CONCLUSION: Over a quarter of players on average, report a physical complaint each week that does not prevent them from participating in training or match play. A non-TL injury was shown to be useful in identifying individual players at an increased risk of a TL injury.

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: