Preventing Winter Sport Injuries: Orthopaedic Surgery

Winter is here, and thousands of skiers and snowboarders are flocking to Vancouver and Whistler for the season. Skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular winter sports, but they are also a common cause of many injuries. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to help lower your chances of being injured this winter.

How to prevent Skier’s Thumb

Skier’s Thumb is the most common upper extremity skiing injury, affecting a thumb ligament called the ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL. A ligament is the soft tissue that connects bones to bones. The injury occurs when the ski pole isn’t released from the hand placing stress on the thumb. Not using your ski pole strap, or avoiding ski poles with platforms or sabre handles can decrease the risk of Skier’s Thumb. All of these items can prevent you from quickly letting go of your poles when you fall. If the ski pole stays in your hand throughout your fall, the pole can act like a lever to put a large amount of stress on the thumb joint. If you fall, it is better to lose your poles and protect your thumbs.

If you fall while skiing, and suffer from pain in your thumb afterwards, the person to see is a hand surgeon. Your surgeon can determine whether the pain is the result of a UCL injury, and whether it is a partial or complete ligament tear. A partial tear can usually be treated with a cast or splint, whereas a complete tear requires surgery to repair the ligament because the torn end of the ligament often gets trapped behind a muscle.

How to prevent Snowboard Wrist Injury

Trauma to the wrist is the most common injury among snowboarders. This may take the form of a broken bone, dislocation, or ligament injury. Wrist injuries usually occur when a rider falls backwards or forwards and puts their hands out in front of themselves to brace the fall.

The chance of suffering a snowboarding-related wrist injury may be decreased by using wrist guards or gloves with guards built into them. Medical studies have shown this sort of protective gear to be effective at decreasing the potential for injury. We also recommend wearing a helmet, greatly reducing your risk of head injury.

If you do think you’ve injured your wrist, you should have a doctor examine your wrist and possibly get an x-ray, an MRI, or a CT scan. Depending on the positions of the bones and the integrity of the ligaments, treatment may consist of a splint, cast, or even surgery.

Latest Techniques – Arthroscopic Techniques

The use of arthroscopic techniques has been particularly important for patients who have suffered joint injuries. Arthroscopy was pioneered in the early 1950s by Dr. Masaki Watanabe of Japan to perform minimally invasive cartilage surgery and the reconstruction of torn ligaments. Arthroscopy helped patients recover from the surgery in a matter of days, rather than the weeks to months required by conventional, ‘open’ surgery.

False Creek Healthcare Centre offers a broad range of sports injury treatment and orthopaedic surgery, including arthroscopic techniques. Our expert physicians and surgeons excel in general orthopaedics and procedures such as shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee surgery.

Learn more about Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Injury Surgeries at False Creek Healthcare Centre.

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