For some people, skiing offers a sense of freedom and thrill that no other winter sport can match. Going down the slopes might be an excellent way to pass the holidays, but injuries are an unfortunate part of this recreational activity.
Spinal injuries are some of the most frequent injuries sustained by skiers and snowboarders, topped only by traumatic brain injury. When you fall or make sudden movements while you’re skiing downhill, you risk damaging critical structures in your back. If you are fond of skiing, below are some of the most common back-related ski injuries you should know about.
When you ski, your lower back and abdominal muscles are hard at work in keeping the body upright. Carrying heavy equipment through the snow can also put additional pressure on your lower back. If you fail to stretch properly before skiing, you increase the likelihood of straining your back muscles or tendons.
Minor strains can be treated with the RICE method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, severe muscle strains that involve a deep tear in the tissue may warrant medical intervention.
To protect your back, don’t forget to stretch and strengthen your core muscles as part of your conditioning program. Don’t rush into challenging or physically demanding trails. Always start with beginner-friendly slopes and slowly work your way up.
A ski trail is hardly free from obstacles. When you shift too quickly to avoid trees or other skiers, there’s a risk you might dislocate your back. A back dislocation occurs when the vertebrae shift out of their normal position. It can also overstretch or tear ligaments in the spine.
To restore the vertebrae to their correct alignment, your doctor might prescribe a back brace. For severe dislocations, back surgery may be required.
When you fall forward at high speed and height, there’s a risk that you overextend the cervical spine, which is linked to the neck. A fall may also affect the lumbar spine, the region that covers the lower back. Generally, injuries near the top of the spine lead to a more extensive disability like numbness and paralysis than injuries in the lower spinal regions.
A spinal injury may come in the form of a sprain or a fracture. A sprain affects one or more ligaments in the spine, while a fracture occurs when one or more vertebrae get broken.
A traumatic blow to the spine may affect the vertebrae, ligaments, spinal discs, or the sensitive nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the nervous system. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may result in permanent changes to your strength, sensation, and other bodily functions.
Swelling, paralysis, numbness, and loss of control are telltale signs of a spinal cord injury. Even if you regain consciousness after a bad fall, it’s best to immediately visit a doctor, since the first few hours after a spinal injury is critical in avoiding adverse long-term effects.
Ski Injury Treatment in Rochester Hills, MI
To reduce the risk of spine injuries, don’t forget to wear protective equipment such as a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. Whether you’re a competitive or amateur skier, it’s useful to educate yourself, so you know how to respond if you or your loved one gets into an accident.
If you would like to know how to protect your spine on the slopes, visit our team at Ahlgren Spine. Dr. Bradley Ahlgren is a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine specialist who can provide expert advice and high-quality orthopedic treatment. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Ahlgren will teach you the proper way to position your body, fall safely, and regain control quickly in the event of an accident.
If you sustain an injury, you can rest easy in the care of our specialists. We are committed to providing personalized care through state-of-the-art diagnostic technology and minimally invasive treatment options.
To schedule a consultation, call us at (248) 215-8080 or fill out our online appointment request form. We have satellite offices in Bad Axe and Royal Oak to make it more accessible for you to receive timely orthopedic care within your area. We look forward to helping you get back to the sport you love!