Every year, we can practically set our watches by the start of ski season…

A week or so after Christmas, we’ll see the first of what will become a common feature of the Yorkshire Knee Clinic throughout the first two or three months of the year: knee injuries sustained on the ski slopes.


Optimum conditions for cruciate ligament tears

Amongst the most common injuries are cruciate ligament tears. These typically happen when the snow is soft and slushy, they tend to be low velocity impacts and, in most instances, our knee consultants will hear tales of the ski getting caught and the binding not coming free during a fall. This creates increased torque (twisting force) on the knee which tears the ligament.

If the binding comes free the injury will rarely be significant. Similarly, if you suffer a fall but can continue skiing the chances of any injury you’ve sustained being serious drops dramatically.

If the binding doesn’t come free, you may find the knee swells rapidly (usually within an hour), you’ll be in some pain and you won’t be able to continue skiing. These are the signs of significant ligament injury.

Even if you were to rest, ice, compress and elevate (RICE) the injury for a day or two, any attempt to return to the slopes once the swelling had subsided would leave the knee weak and liable to give way. That’s because the cruciate ligament is what supports the knee’s ability to make twisting and turning movements.

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Seeking treatment

Swift diagnosis and treatment is hugely important in cases of knee ligament damage. Fortunately, most ski resorts have medical centres staffed by doctors who see these sort of injury patterns on a daily basis.

Urgent surgery isn’t usually required, although if your injury has also resulted in a fracture or similar then it may be. You will need treatment when you return from holiday (which is why we see so many post ski-holiday patients at Yorkshire Knee Clinic). For the best outcome and a speedier recovery, make your appointment with us as soon as you return home.

If you do suffer ligament damage on the slopes, RICE, crutches and a brace should be enough to keep you mobile. You may not be able to get back on the ski slopes, but at least you’ll still be able to sample the après ski.

Have you suffered a knee injury whilst skiing? Talk to the knee specialists at Yorkshire Knee Clinic now.

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