Bay Area Knee Injury Specialist Discusses Common Ski Injuries

Each year more than a half a million people will suffer a ski-related injury. Knee injuries are the most common, accounting for 30-40%. Recognizing the injury when it occurs and treating it properly is the best way to quicken recovery time and increase the chances of a return to the slopes before the end of the season.

Active adults tend to downplay injuries, but some will only worsen if they are not recognized immediately and treated properly by a knee surgeon in San Francisco.

Ligament Injuries

Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, medial, and the collateral ligament account for nearly half of all knee injuries on the slopes. Ironically, changes to the design of boots, bindings and skis to prevent the too-common leg fractures of the 1970’s have often been the cause.

Current ski and boot designs are beginning to reverse this trend, providing the tools needed to practice the carving technique in skiing. Carving can make for a more enjoyable and safer skiing experience. However, the training or retraining period can be a time when risk of injury is greater, particularly to the knee area.

Ligament injuries can be easy to recognize, because they often involve a popping sound that lets the skier know what has happened. But sometimes a torn or ruptured ligament won’t pop, so the skier must rely on a number of other symptoms in order to properly recognize the injury.

Additional signs of a ligament injury include:

  • Immediate searing pain, followed by a dull, painful sensation in the knee
  • Swelling around the knee immediately
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the knee
  • A wobbly sensation, as though the kneecap is floating and/or out of place

Any of these symptoms should prompt one to consult with a knee injury specialist in San Francisco.

Key Treatment Approaches for Ski-Related Knee Injuries

When knee ligaments are torn, ruptured, or even severely strained, it’s critical to begin treatment right away. Delayed treatment can increase the need for more aggressive treatment down the line, compromise the chance of a full recovery, lengthen the skier’s return to the sport, and even lead to severe arthritis in the joint.

Initial treatment of all knee injuries should begin with RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Consult with a knee doctor in the Bay Area within 24 hours if symptoms persist or worsen during the first six to eight hours. Often the best option for patients who wish to return to an active lifestyle after a knee injury is arthroscopic reconstruction of the ligament. The minimally-invasive procedure is usually done in a same-day surgery facility, and involves grafting tendons from the patella or hamstring to replace the torn or ruptured ligaments. A successful surgery followed by physical therapy and use of bracing equipment can reduce the risk of reinjury by nearly 300%.

See A Knee Injury Specialist in San Francisco

A ski injury may not impose a lengthy time away from the slopes. Contact Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht HERE for a consultation. Or call IASM at (415) 923-0944.