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Sports-Related Facial Soft Tissue Injuries


Sports-related facial soft tissue injuries are not uncommon.
The position and anatomy of the face make it particularly vulnerable to trauma. In addition, few sports mandate the use of protective equipment, leaving the face susceptible to injury.

The mechanism of facial soft tissue injuries is often a direct impact from an external source (eg, sporting equipment, another participant, environment/playing surface). The forces exerted by the impact can lead to friction, shear, compression, and/or traction of the soft tissue and underlying structures. Injury patterns vary widely by sport, based on various factors (eg, rules, equipment).

Although most such injuries are minor in nature, they should be evaluated promptly with a focused history and thorough examination. In addition, facial injuries should be treated early to reduce the likelihood of possible adverse outcomes (ie, infection, loss of function, poor cosmesis). In this article, common sports-related soft tissue facial injuries are discussed, with an emphasis on the initial evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.


The use of protective equipment, such as helmets and headgear, face masks, eye protection (shields or goggles), and mouthpieces are useful in preventing some types of facial soft tissue injuries.
Importantly, make sure the rules of the sport allow for the use of such protective equipment before recommending or providing the protective equipment.

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