Introduction: Upper limb injuries affecting professional footballers are under investigated and under reported. I performed a systematic review evaluating current literature available on professional footballers to identify the incidence of upper limb injuries and types of injury. I further evaluated if players team position influenced the injury.
Methods: A systematic review was performed in June 2021 to identify appropriate articles in the following databases: PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Cochrane Library, Medline and CINHAL. The critical appraisal system program check list for cohort studies was used to score each article reviewed and a percentage score was given. Articles which scored below 50%, were deemed to be of poor quality. Further data was extracted to include country of origin, players demographic data, data extraction, data analysis and quality assessment, injuries, number of hours of exposure, injury incidence and injury severity.
Results: Thirteen articles were reviewed according to the critical appraisal system questionnaire checklist. Three articles were found to score highly. The number of players, injuries, exposure hours, overall incidence, incidence severity and upper limb incidence were recorded.
Conclusion: This systematic review supports previous literature and confirms that upper limb injuries are less common than lower limb injuries in footballers. Goalkeepers are five times more likely to sustain an upper limb injury than an outfield player. Shoulder acromioclavicular joint injuries were found to be the most common upper limb injury. Position specific results suggest that goalkeeper lay-off time is significantly greater than that of outfield players.