Skiing injuries

Skiing injuries are quite common, especially among occasional skiers. Most injuries occur as a result of falls; concussions, shoulder injuries and fractures being the most common. Other skiing injuries include ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and thumb injuries. Many skiing injuries can be avoided by embarking on a conditioning programme before you begin the season, by wearing protective gear, by getting instructed in the techniques and by avoiding hazardous skiing conditions.


These may be mild or severe and may occur from a fall or direct blow to the head. A concussion occurs when the brain moves in the skull as a result of the trauma. Someone who sustains a mild concussion while skiing may appear disoriented, confused and may suffer memory loss. In severe cases, there may be headaches, stiff neck, bleeding from the nose or ears, dizziness, blurred vision and even loss of consciousness. Any of these signs require immediate medical attention. Even the mildest cases of concussion should be reported as more severe effects could be felt later. Any dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, excessive sleepiness, loss of appetite, nausea or pins and needles and numbness experienced within a few days of a fall or collision may be the result of a concussion and need to be examined immediately by a health professional.

Skier’s thumb

Also known as “Gatekeepers’ Thumb”, this is a common skiing injury that causes pain and a premature end to a skiing trip. This injury takes place at the MCP (metacarpophalangeal) joint at the base of the thumb and involves the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament). This type of skiing injury usually occurs when a skier’s thumb is forced into abduction (movement away from the index finger) and hyperextension (moving backwards) against the ski pole during a fall or other impact. For a simple strain or tear, icing and casting to immobilise the joint work best. However, if there is a complete tear, fracture or instability of the MCP joint, surgery may be necessary. An x-ray is often necessary to rule out a fracture. Physiotherapy will follow to restore joint mobility, strength and stability. Splinting of the thumb when there is a Skiers Thumb injury may sometimes be necessary for up to 12 months and a gradual return to skiing is incorporated into the physiotherapy rehabilitation programme. It is important to treat a thumb injury promptly; if neglected, it may become chronic and arthritis and instability may develop.

Knee injuries

Medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries occur most commonly among beginning and immediate skiers due to faulty biomechanics or a fall. Knee pain, swelling and tenderness along the inside angle of the knee joint are the usual symptoms. This type of skiing injury responds well to conservative treatments with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) and physiotherapy. However, in some instances, where there is a complete rupture of the ligament, your doctor may decide to perform surgery which is then followed by a physiotherapy rehabilitation programme.

Another knee injury possible amongst skiers is an anterior collateral ligament (ACL) tear. This may occur in conjunction with an MCL injury. It can be caused by an awkward landing on skis after a jump, by stopping too suddenly whilst skiing, by an abrupt change in direction or as a result of a fall. There may be an audible pop at the time of the injury, followed by knee pain, swelling and tenderness on the inner side of the knee. It may be difficult to walk or straighten the knee. With this type of knee injury, the athlete should stop the activity immediately and apply the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) protocol. Quite often with an ACL tear, surgery is necessary with physiotherapy recommended before surgery to ensure the best results, followed by an intense physiotherapy rehabilitation programme after surgery ranging between 6 -12 months in duration to help regain pre-injury strength and flexibility. A knee brace is often recommended for stability in the initial stages post-surgery.

For these or any type of skiing injury, give us a call or visit us. We are here to help.

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