Winter may not have the vibrant colors of other seasons, but it is still an exciting time of year. Many people wait all year long to flock to skating rinks, frozen ponds, and ski slopes with their skis, ice skates, toboggans, snow tubes, and sleds. However, as exhilarating as winter sports are, the icy, slippery surfaces can be highly conducive to injuries.
At the office of Dr. William F. Hefley, Jr. M.D., we see an uptick in the winter season in patients coming to seek treatment for sports injuries. Here are the most common:
The intensity of popular winter sports such as snowboarding, skating, skiing, and ice hockey presents a real risk of a knee injury. The repetitive, forceful movements involved in these sports make your knees susceptible to pressure, shock, and overuse. Falling directly on your knee or, at the very least, repeatedly bending your leg can also make your knees more prone to the ligament and meniscal tears.
· Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL/PCL) Injuries
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the thighbone to the shinbone, while posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) holds similar function, albeit larger and stronger.
The ACL and PCL injuries are those that affect the ligaments responsible for providing stability to the knee. These occur from sudden twisting while your feet are in a fixed position or due to a blow to your knee while it’s bent.
You may hear or feel a “pop” in your knee when an ACL injury occurs. Your knee may swell, feel unstable, and become too painful when bearing weight.
Unlike in an ACL injury, you wouldn’t feel or hear a “popping” sensation in your knee after a PCL injury. Symptoms of a PCL injury include knee pain, swelling, wobbly sensation, or difficulty in walking or bearing weight on your knee. While less common compared to an ACL injury, a PCL injury still merits a visit to an orthopedic doctor in Little Rock.
· Meniscus Tears
The menisci are cartilages that provide cushion between your thighbone and shinbone. They hold a vital role in the normal function and long-term health of the joints in your knees.
Meniscus tears can occur when your knee twists too sharply or suffers direct trauma. If your foot is in a fixed position bearing most of your body weight on it and your knee is slightly bent, the meniscus can become trapped between your thighbone and shinbone as soon as you twist your body.
Symptoms include tenderness in the back of your knee and pain in the area where the meniscus is torn. Knee pain and swelling occur within a few hours after you sustained the injury. Depending on how bad the meniscus tear is, your knee can become unstable, give way, or lock up—rendering you unable to fully straighten it.
Unlike your knee or hip, your shoulder gets its stability and strength from a joint that has a loose capsule and does not have a deep socket. Because of its wider range of motion, your shoulder joint is much less stable and, therefore, more vulnerable to injuries such as rotator cuff tears or dislocation.
· Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff is the term given to the group of four muscles in your upper arm. It is responsible for your ability to raise and rotate your arm.
Rotator cuff tears may occur suddenly and usually when you fall on your outstretched hand. They may also happen over time due to repetitive movement. Ice hockey, skating, and skiing can put you at risk of rotator cuff tears. The intensity of these sports makes you prone to landing on your arm to protect yourself from falling or slipping.
The most common symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include shoulder pain, particularly when lying on your affected shoulder and when lifting or lowering your arm. You can also feel a crackling or snapping sensation when moving your shoulder and weakness when rotating your arm.
· Shoulder Dislocation
Hitting an icy surface can make you prone to dislocating your shoulder. A hard hit, which usually wouldn’t easily affect other joints in your body, can cause your shoulder to slip out of place.
While skiers, skaters, and hockey players have shown to have a greater risk of shoulder dislocation, snowboarders are twice as much susceptible. With both of your feet locked into position on the board, you instinctively try to catch yourself with your arms when you fall. A hard landing can easily dislocate your shoulder.
Symptoms of shoulder dislocation include swelling or bruising, inability to move it, intense shoulder pain, and a visibly out-of-place shoulder.
Sports Medicine Physician in Little Rock, AR
If you are experiencing any of these sports injuries but don’t want to sideline your winter activities for too long, seeking treatment from a highly experienced orthopedic doctor in Little Rock is your best bet. Dr. William F. Hefley, Jr., M.D, along with his team, has earned a very good reputation in delivering high-quality care for a broad range of injuries or conditions involving the hip, knee, and shoulder, through both surgical and nonsurgical means.
Book an appointment with Dr. William F. Hefley, Jr., M.D., if you sustain an injury this winter. You can reach us by calling (800) 336-2412 or by using our online appointment request form.