Clinical Review

Upper Extremity Injuries in Soccer

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  • Upper extremity injuries in soccer are not common, however they can reach up to 18% of all injuries in professional goalkeepers.
  • Common injury locations in the upper extremity in soccer are the shoulder/clavicle, hand/finger/thumb, the elbow, and the wrist and most of these injuries are traumatic injuries.
  • Mechanism of injury, players’ complaints and presentation, physical examination, and imaging features are all important for a proper evaluation and optimal management.
  • Position of play is an important consideration in the management of upper extremity injuries in soccer. Outfield players may be able to return to play before a complete resolution of their injury, with protective accessories.
  • Prompt and accurate diagnosis and appropriate management are essential for improved outcomes and timely return to play.




Upper limb injuries in soccer represent only a marginal portion of injuries, however this is mainly true for outfield players. Goalkeepers are reported to have up to 5 times more upper extremity injuries, many of them requiring substantial time-loss for treatment and rehabilitation. The most common upper extremity injury locations are the shoulder/clavicle followed by the hand/finger/thumb, elbow, wrist, forearm, and upper arm. The mechanism of injury, presentation, physical examination, and imaging features all play a significant role in reaching the correct diagnosis. Taking to consideration the position the player plays and his demands will also enable tailoring the optimal treatment plan that allows timely and safe return to play. This article discusses common upper extremity injuries observed in soccer players, focusing on proper diagnosis and optimal management.

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