Like all sports, there’s always the risk we can injure ourselves whilst skiing or snowboarding. This could be due to snow conditions, skiing ability, tiredness or collisions with another person or object.
Here are the 10 most common injuries that you could sustain on the slopes:
1. Peroneal Tendon Injuries
Peroneal tendon injuries are often described as a “sprain with pain behind the fibula” and you will feel tenderness behind the outside of your ankle. The peroneals are made up of two muscles: the peroneus longus and brevis. If you dislocate these muscles you will see a thick tendon over the bone, which will require surgical intervention. Peroneus longus injury alone can be treated conservatively with an air cast boot and physiotherapy.
2. Sub Talar Joint Injuries
You will experience tenderness upon touching the front of your ankle and when you have a CT scan, it will show up as a fracture in the joint. This can be treated with air cast boot and progressively returning to full weight bearing over 6 weeks. Physiotherapy will also assist with returning to full sporting function and winter sports for next season.
3. Clavicle (Collarbone) Fracture
The type of clavicle fracture we are most concerned about is isolated or commuted fractures. Your doctor on the slope may describe your clavicle as shortened, overlapping or butterfly fragments. These fractures will need reviewing if you are still having problems after 3 months post injury, as they may affect muscle function or irritate your nerves around your neck/shoulder area. Your injury will normally be repaired using a plate and screws and rehabilitation with your physiotherapist is vital to regain full range of movement and allow you to return to sport at 3 months.
4. Greater Tuberosity Fracture
Your greater tuberosity is part of your humeral head (shoulder), which has muscles around the shoulder attached to it. If you fracture this it can cause problems with lifting your arm above shoulder height and can also cause discomfort when you lie on your shoulder. It commonly injured when you fall on your shoulder or elbow. It is often missed on X-ray, and if you are having the above symptoms it would be advisable to have an MRI scan as it is easier to diagnose this way.
5. Humeral Fracture
Your humerus is the bone at the top of your arm. For skiers you are more likely to fracture the top of it either in 2, 3 or 4 parts, whereas snowboarders are more likely to fracture the bottom of it. Both will require surgical intervention and you can start physiotherapy 14 days after surgery to ensure that the arm does not get stiff and you regain full function.
6. Pectoralis Major Tendon Tear
You will be very aware of this injury, as you will have severe bruising around your chest and upper arm, and a change in the contour of your pectorals. These require immediate surgical repair and the optimum time is within 2 weeks of injury to regain the best recovery.
7. Meniscal Injuries
The meniscus is the C-shaped cartilage in between the knees. You have one around each half of the knee and it acts as a protective layer during weight bearing and impact (i.e. jumping). Doctors will diagnose an injured meniscus using an MRI scan and will refer to it as “torn cartilage”. With a meniscal tear you may suffer from a combination of pain, swelling, clicking, catching, or locking during motion of the knee joint. Pain is normally only present when weight bearing through your knee. Treatment usually involves anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy to reduce swelling, improve range of movement and correct biomechanics that may have contributed to the tear. Sporting knee supports and braces help after meniscus injury. Our shop has a range of knee supports and braces to choose from at affordable prices and next day delivery options. If the symptoms do not resolve you may require surgical interventions, such as a knee arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) to mend or cut away the damaged part of the meniscus. If you do have a knee arthroscopy you will also require post-surgical physiotherapy to ensure you regain a fully functioning knee.
8. Tibial Plateau Fractures
Tibial plateau fractures are fractures involving the top of the tibia or shin bone. If you sustain one of these you may experience immediate swelling and pain. A CT scan can quickly diagnose and indicate whether surgery is required. If a tibial plateau fracture is displaced less than 2-3 mm, then surgery is unlikely to be required, however, in most cases, there will be a displacement of more than 2-3mm and surgery will be necessary. After surgery, you will not be able to weight bear on the affected leg for 8-10 weeks and you will wear a knee brace. However, physiotherapy is required right away to improve range of motion in the knee and limit stiffness.
9. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament is located inside the knee joint and injuries often occur when the knee adopts a position known as ‘dynamic valgus’. This is where the foot is planted and the knee is slightly bent forward and rotated across the midline of the body. This is common when performing a sidestep manoeuvre in sport. When the ACL is injured most people will state that they heard an audible ‘pop’ or ‘snap’. There will be immediate swelling, instability and severe pain. Few ACL complete tears heal by themselves, so you will likely be referred to an orthopaedic knee surgeon. The surgeon will assess your knee using a variety of specific tests. An MRI scan is often employed to assess the knee to establish an accurate diagnosis of the severity of the injury. There are a number of factors the knee consultant will consider when deciding if you require surgery to repair the ACL. The reconstruction is often performed using keyhole surgery and tendinous tissue as a graft. Whether you have surgery or not it is vital you undergo a course of physiotherapy rehabilitation to regain full movement and strength around your knee and help return you to sport safely. There are a range of knee braces available to protect your knee after an ACL injury.
10. Medial Collateral Ligament Injuries
The medial collateral ligament runs down the inside of the knee and connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (leg bone). This ligament can be sprained or torn. The sprain can be grade I where a few fibres of the ligament have been stretched. Grade II sprain means a large number of ligament fibres have be stretched and a grade III sprain is a complete tear of the ligament. Physiotherapy can help by treating to stop any stiffness of the knee happening and encourage healing of the ligament. Exercises will be set to encourage strength and stability around the knee. A knee support or brace may be required to fully protect the ligament and allow healing.
With all injuries time will be needed after injury to rehabilitate and regain strength and movement in the affected area.
So be safe on the slopes, but if you are unfortunate to sustain an injury please contact us and we can organize a sports physiotherapist to help you get back on your hands or feet ready for the summer sports to start! If you want to see a top London consultant, we can also advise which ones we recommend.