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5 Common Ski Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

5 Common Ski Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

Injuries from skiing can be severe, since the speed and force of the impact made after an error on the slopes is extreme. Following safety protocols can help you reduce your risk, but you still need to know what can happen if you take a bad fall in the powder.

At The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine in San Francisco, California, San Francisco orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht and his experienced team treat most of the top five most common injuries you can incur while skiing. If you’re looking for a San Francisco ski doctor, Bay area located IASM is an excellent choice.

1. Medial collateral ligament injuries

Ligaments that stabilize your knee joint are prone to injury while skiing. The most vulnerable is the medial collateral ligament (MCL) which runs down the inside of the knee from thigh to shin. It can be torn if your leg goes out from under you sideways. This is a common and severe injury among beginner and fatigued skiers. It can be prevented in some cases by making sure you don’t ski when you’re tired, and by only skiing at your level. 

2. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries

Another major ligament runs diagonally through the middle of your knee. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are less common than MCL injuries, but they can cause more damage. If the leg gets jammed and the knee starts to bend backward, your ACL can stretch or tear. Learning how to fall correctly and protect your knees is key to minimizing the risk of an ACL tear.

3. Ulnar collateral ligament injuries

Ligaments aren’t just in your knees. The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) lies on the inside of the first joint of the thumb, and is so prone to damage in skiers that an injury to it is called "Skier's Thumb." Falling with outstretched arms while grasping a pole is the most common cause of this injury, so knowing when to ditch the poles and go for a controlled fall is key to avoidance. 

4. Shoulder injuries

The rotator cuff is made up of a group of muscles and tendons. These work together to stabilize the shoulder joint. A rotator cuff injury is common during a fall while skiing, especially if the fall isn’t controlled. Learning how to control a fall and when to give up and fall sideways instead of continuing to hurtle down a slope is a vital skill for any skier. With the help of a rotator cuff doctor, San Francisco residents who sustain shoulder injuries while skiing can regain mobility.

5. Head injuries

Finally, ski-related head injuries can be the most dangerous, possibly proving fatal. Wearing correct headgear, skiing at your level, and knowing when to bail on a run are all critical to avoiding catastrophic head injuries. Preparation and a dedication to safety protocols can help prevent a serious concussion or worse.

Have you sustained an injury while skiing? If you need a ski doctor, San Francisco-based Dr. Halbrecht can see you. Just call the location closest to you, or book an appointment online

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