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All About Knee & Ski Injuries

Mr Haslam has been a Consultant Knee Specialist working at Parkhill Hospital in Doncaster for over 15 years, during that time he has treated thousands of patients with knee Injuries. We discuss skiing and snowboarding injuries with Paul, tapping into his experience.

Q. As an Orthopaedic Surgeon you must be anti-skiing surely?

A. Absolutely not I am a very keen skier (although not as good as I think I am) I get into trouble for venturing off-piste a bit and taking the kids with me! Having a knowledge of and passion for skiing helps as I’m keen to get my patients back on the slopes and would hate to say you can’t ski again.

Q. How common are skiing/snowboarding injuries?

A. For experienced skiers the odds are very favourable as recent evidence suggests you have to ski for 447days before a significant injury occurs. However less frequent and learner skiers are more susceptible to injury. It also depends and what you do on the slopes, snow parks, off-piste skiing and skiing after visiting the bar obviously increase the risk!

Q. How can I reduce the risk of injury?

A. Use common sense and get fit before going skiing. Just some simple exercises before you go will help. The use of braces to prevent injury is controversial although I do recommend them for people who have had a previous injury or surgery. Whilst on the slopes avoid skiing when tired and take extra care in poor visibility. Make sure your bindings are not on too tight. Interestingly a lot of the injuries I have seen have been relatively low speed as at higher speeds the ski is released from the binding.

ski injuries

Q. What happens if I do injure my knee?

A. twisting knee injury, a pop or snap followed by severe pain and then swelling is the usual scenario. You will need help to get down from the slopes and be taken to the local medical centre. Usually an x-ray will be taken to make sure there are no broken bones.

Q. What structures are likely to be damaged?

A. With the history above the most likely diagnosis is rupture of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). A strong ligament (string) deep inside the knee. The ACL usually does not heal and can lead to instability (wobbliness) of the joint. The cartilage shock absorber in the knee called the meniscus can also be damaged.

Q. If I have torn my ACL what is the best way to treat this?

A. Some people can manage without surgery so physiotherapy as soon as possible is always recommended. Patients who are active and those that complain of instability usually have surgery to reconstruct (rebuild) the ACL.

Q. What do I do if they recommend immediate surgery?

A. Current evidence does not support immediate surgery for knee injuries. It is almost always better to let the knee calm down and swelling reduce before having a big operation.

Q. Can I make contact whilst I’m out of the country?

A. Yes during the COVID crisis we have become very accustomed to telephone and video consultations. We understand how upsetting it can be to be left in the ski chalet with a pair of crutches so if you contact our team we can organise a phone call to reassure and make plans for your return.

Q. I injured my knee last year and saw a doctor who said it was ok but it doesn’t feel quite right should I pursue this further?

A. Yes. Unfortunately serious knee injuries like ACL rupture can be missed if you are concerned after a significant injury ask your GP for a referral. You could damage your knee further. Even MRI scans can be misleading and a thorough examination by a specialist knee surgeon is recommended.

It is definitely best to get it checked out by a specialist in knee injuries just to be on the safe side. Read all about the conditions that we treat right here.

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