Newsletter  Winter 03: Heading to the Slopes?

Heading to the slopes? Read this first!
For many, there is no better way to spend a crisp winter day than to spend it on the slopes. Skiing and snowboarding have become popular winter passtimes for all those young at heart. Successful skiers and snowboarders make this sport look easy by maintaining good balance, strength and agility. The slopes however are no less forgiving to the recreational enthusiast than they are to the elite racer when it comes to injuries.

Knee trauma is one of the most common forms of injury experienced by skiers and boarders. Injuries may result from a direct blow, such as in a collision with another skier/boarder, from a fall or from a sudden twist where one or more of the ligaments of the knee become overstretched. When the ligament is overstretched, it becomes tense and gives way at its weakest point, either where it attaches to bone or within the ligament itself.

There are 3 types of sprains that may occur :
  • Grade 1—involves tearing of some ligament fibers
  • Grade 2—involves a rupture of a portion of the ligament
  • Grade 3—involves a complete rupture of the ligament or complete separation of ligament from bone
The signs and symptoms following an accident can vary depending on the structure of the knee involved and the degree in which it has been affected. Common indications that trauma has occurred to the knee ligament are listed below:
  • Severe pain at the time of injury
  • A “pop” or “crack” heard at the time of injury
  • A feeling of “something going out and then going back” or “tearing”
  • Tenderness at the injury site
  • “Giving way” of the weakened knee joint
  • Swelling in the knee
  • Bruising that appears soon after the injury
Treatment following an accident will differ depending on the extent of the injury. Immediate treatment however, should include instructions used for RICE:
  • Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
Consult your family physician or a sports medicine physician before returning to activity. Depending on the doctor's diagnosis the following can be expected:
  • Physiotherapy/Athletic Therapy
  • Orthopedic consult
  • Custom knee brace
  • Fitness program
Remember, with proper fitting equipment and a good off-season stretching and strengthening program many injuries can be prevented. So strap on your skies, hit the slopes and have fun!