Injuries are a major contributor to healthcare costs and individuals' health and disability status. In response to the overall public health burden, injuries were one of the first medical conditions identified as an Australian National Health Priority Area. Our previous epidemiological research has shown that sports injuries, especially those sustained through formal and highly competitive sport, are often associated with considerable pain and dysfunction. They have significant ongoing impact on quality of life and need for medical treatment, including in the hospital setting.They are also a major barrier towards both the uptake and continuance of health-generating physical activity guidance.
Little is known about the prevalence and associated of morbidity of tendon problems. With only severe cases of tendon problems missing games, players that have their training and performance impacted are not captured by traditional injury surveillance. The aim of this study was to report the prevalence of Achilles and patellar tendon problems in elite male Australian football players using the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre (OSTRC) overuse questionnaire, compared to a time-loss definition. Male athletes from 12 professional Australian football teams were invited to complete a monthly questionnaire over a 9-month period in the 2016 pre- and competitive season. The OSTRC overuse injury questionnaire was used to measure the prevalence and severity of Achilles and patellar tendon symptoms and was compared to traditional match-loss statistics. A total of 441 participants were included. Of all participants, 21.5% (95% CI: 17.9-25.6) and 25.2% (95% CI 21.3-29.4) reported Achilles or patellar tendon problems during the season, respectively. Based on the traditional match-loss definition, a combined 4.1% of participants missed games due to either Achilles or patellar tendon injury. A greater average monthly prevalence was observed during the pre-season compared to the competitive season. Achilles and patellar tendon problems are prevalent in elite male Australian football players. These injuries are not adequately captured using a traditional match-loss definition. Prevention of these injuries may be best targeted during the off- and pre-season due to higher prevalence of symptoms during the pre-season compared to during the competitive season.