Skiing Knee Injuries
Each winter and spring, the knee specialists at The Yorkshire Knee Clinic are kept busy with injuries from the ski slopes.
A third of all skiing injuries affect the knee (women are particularly at risk from ACL injures on the ski slopes).
Whilst serious injuries are uncommon, if you do suffer an injury it is important to seek swift diagnosis and treatment.
How Can I Prevent Knee Injury When Skiing?
- Perform pre-trip exercises for six to eight weeks before departure. For advice, talk to our specialist physiotherapists.
- Ensure all your equipment (especially ski bindings) is professionally fitted and well-maintained.
- Limit (or better still, avoid) alcohol during the day. Research has shown that excess alcohol contributes to a higher percentage of hospital admissions after lunch.
- Beware of fatigue. If you’re feeling tired, don’t do that last run.
Skiing’s Most Common Knee Injuries
Knee Ligament Injuries
Most skiing-related knee ligament injuries are sustained by falling and the ski not releasing.
MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) Sprain/Tear
We’ll help you manage a simple sprain with the help of a physiotherapist. Early mobilisation (i.e. moving around and using the knee) can also help. If our knee specialists diagnose a major tear you will need a hinged brace (splint) and you should be wearing this within a week or so of injury – so it’s important you see your knee consultant as soon as possible. With bracing, most MCL injuries heal and you should make an excellent recovery. Delays in diagnosis, however, can lead to the knee becoming unstable and requiring knee ligament surgery – with less predictable results.
ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Rupture
This most serious of ligament injuries can cause the knee to become unstable particularly when twisting – a key action for turning on the slopes. Longer term, it can also increase the risk of the knee wearing out early (osteoarthritis).
At Yorkshire Knee Clinic, we can manage these injuries with physiotherapy alone or a combination of physiotherapy and ACL reconstruction surgery. It’s important to get advice from a specialist knee doctor quickly but beware of being pressurised into early ACL surgery abroad as this can be counterproductive.
Knee Cartilage Tears
The twisting nature of skiing falls can lead to tears in one of the two menisci (‘cartilages’) – the knee’s c-shaped shock absorbers. These can vary from small tears which cause discomfort to larger tears which can lock the knee. Small tears can heal and symptoms often settle down, but if discomfort continues to limit your activities over 4-6 weeks, talk to your knee consultant who may recommend treatment including knee arthroscopy (simple keyhole surgery).
If you can’t straighten your ‘locked’ knee you should call Yorkshire Knee Clinic for an urgent assessment (within a week or two of injury) as early arthroscopic knee surgery may help save the meniscus and/or restore movement.
I’ve Injured My Knee. Should I Seek Treatment While I’m Away?
If you are unfortunate enough to pick up a knee injury, it is vital that you get a proper diagnosis from a knee specialist as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
With the exception of fractures, however, immediate surgical treatments are rarely necessary. In the case of ACL reconstruction, early surgery can actually result in poorer outcomes. A simple brace and crutches are usually enough to protect the knee during travel.
Once you return home, however, it’s vital that you get a clear diagnosis from your knee specialist. If you are worries about your knee whilst you are away, contact us for advice. We can perform an online consultation and/or book you an appointment for your return.
Book Your Appointment
Yorkshire Knee Clinic’s orthopaedic specialists can help you recover from a skiing knee injury so you can make the swiftest possible return to the slopes
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Early diagnosis, collaboration & understanding to speed your recovery