Ski Injuries: Identifying and preventing common issues

Ski injuries plague thousands of winter sport enthusiasts every year. Whether you are a first timer or a seasoned veteran, a ski injury can put a major damper on your winter break plans.

Skis injuries range in severity depending on a variety of factors. Injuries to the knee, ankle, shoulder and arm are very common. No matter what your level of experience, it is important to be informed on injury prevention before you hit the slopes this season.

Common Types of Ski Injuries

Foot and Ankle

  • Lateral ankle ligament sprain
  • Ankle fracture
  • Fifth metatarsal fracture
  • Frostbite


  • Meniscus injuries
  • ACL and PCL tear or strains (anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament)
  • Medial collateral ligament injury

Hand and arm

  • Wrist sprain
  • Wrist tendonitis
  • Skier’s thumb
  • Finger fractures
  • Wrist fracture
  • Frostbite

Shoulder and elbow

  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Shoulder separation
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Shoulder fracture
  • Elbow fracture

Neck and Back

  • Neck strain
  • Whiplash
  • Herniated disk
  • Muscle strains of the back

Prevention of ski injuries can mean the difference between a great vacation and months of painful recovery. Weeks before you hit the slopes, it is important to make sure you are in good shape. Plan ahead with skiing conditioning exercises such as squats, agility drills and hill or stair running. Building up endurance is key for minimizing injuries that happen when your body is fatigued.

In addition to building strength and stamina, focus on building your core strength and flexibility. Improving your balance and posture will give you a good foundation for proper form on the slopes. Increasing flexibility will help your body respond well to the rigorous demands of skiing.

Another key to preventing injury is to take it slow. Even if you are trying to pack a lot of fun into just a few short days, do not overdo it. Plan a shorter day of skiing on your first day so you do not fatigue too quickly. If you do too much at first, you will be more sore and tight for the rest of your skiing days.

If you do get injured while skiing, be sure to allow your body a chance to heal before hitting the slopes again. What might start as a minor injury can quickly escalate if you try to push through the pain with further activity. Be sure to consult an orthopaedic surgeon if you do sustain a ski injury this winter.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery Recovery: What to Expect

Recovery from shoulder replacement surgery is a very important aspect of treatment. Your orthopaedic surgeon takes great care to ensure a successful surgery. Further, as the patient, it is your job to participate actively in your recovery process.

If you are considering a total shoulder replacement surgery, you will likely be researching many aspects of the procedure. You will take your time to pick out a skilled, experienced orthopaedic surgeon. But beyond the actual procedure, it is essential to understand what the weeks and months following your procedure will look like.

Timeline for recovery

Each patient is very unique in terms of their injury and overall health. Factors such as age, nutrition, physical activity level and daily routine will impact your recovery process. Therefore, please consult with your orthopaedic surgeon about a more personalized breakdown of recovery from shoulder replacement surgery. The following timeline is a general summary of what to expect during your recovery.

Day of surgery

  • You will begin an antibiotic to prevent infection.
  • Arm will likely be numb for the rest of the day as a side effect of anesthesia, providing good pain relief initially.
  • You will move from surgery to a recovery room for a few hours and then to a hospital room.
  • You will begin using ice or a cooling device to reduce swelling.

First week of recovery

  • You will possibly have bruising in your arm and hand.
  • You will most likely be discharged 1-2 days following surgery. Some patients may even be released the same day if surgery is at an outpatient center.
  • You will be prescribed physical therapy exercises to begin at some point during the first two weeks. Be sure to do these as directed.
  • Arrange to have someone like a friend or family member assist you with tasks around the house. Bathing, getting dressed and doing basic chores at home will be very difficult for the first week.
  • Manage your pain symptoms only as directed by your physician.

Second through fifth week of recovery

  • Staples will be removed between 10-14 days post-surgery, if you have them. This will take place in a follow-up visit with your doctor.
  • Avoid getting your wound area wet until it has fully sealed.
  • Avoid using your healing arm to lift anything  over a few pounds. Check with your physician about specific weight limitations.
  • Your arm will still be in a sling for support but you will be able to start doing household tasks.
  • You will be unable to drive, unless cleared early by your doctor.

Week six of recovery

  • You will likely feel pain during activities or while your arm is at rest. Consult with your doctor about your specific pain level and best plan for managing pain.
  • Continue with physical therapy exercises.
  • Listen to your body and avoid doing any activities that increase pain in your healing arm.
  • You will likely be able to drive.

Three months post-surgery

  • You will likely be back to doing normal activities including a moderate workout routine, as cleared by your doctor.
  • Your pain will be very minimal.
  • Your range of motion will be greatly improved.

Six months post-surgery

  • You will likely be pain free.
  • You will likely be back to your full range of motion.
  • Avoid certain strenuous activities such as pushing or lifting heavy objects, contact sports and vigorous throwing.

Knee Pain: Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatment

Knee pain is not an easy symptom to ignore. If you suffer from pain in your knee and the surrounding area, you know how physically limited life can be. There are several causes for this type of pain as well as a variety of treatments. Understanding the cause of your pain can help determine the best treatment options.

Whether your knee pain is new or you have been dealing with it for an extended period of time, finding treatment now is the best option. But how do you know if you need surgery or if other treatment options will be enough to address your knee pain?

Meeting with an orthopaedic surgeon is a great first step to understanding and treating your knee pain. Some people might assume that consulting with a surgeon means they will have to have surgery. This is a common myth. Orthopaedic surgeons treat both operatively and non-operatively. Surgery is only considered if absolutely necessary.

Depending on the specific type of injury or issue in your knee, an orthopaedic surgeon can determine whether or not your knee pain can be treated without surgery.

Non-Surgical Treatment Approaches

Some knee pain can be managed without surgery. Depending on the severity of your injury or knee issue, you may be able treat your injury with minimal intervention. For some people, use of acetaminophin, ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve swelling and pain. In addition, using the four simple steps of R.I.C.E. can alleviate painful symptoms. Resting your leg/knee, using ice, compressing the area and elevating the knee may provide enough relief from knee pain to get back on your feet. Further, physical therapy exercises, as prescribed by a doctor, often lead to effective recovery from  injury or discomfort in your knee.

Surgical Treatment Approaches

Surgical treatment of knee pain varies widely. Identifying the source of the pain is the first step. Orthopaedic surgeons are able to use physical examinations as well as X-ray images to determine the underlying cause of knee pain. In some cases such as damaged/torn ligaments or cartilage, surgical treatment can be very beneficial. Knee arthroscopy, osteotomy, partial knee replacement and total knee replacement are examples of the surgical approaches that can benefit some patients.

If you have been suffering from knee pain, do not hesitate to contact a board certified orthopaedic surgeon to explore what options are right for you.

Orthopaedic Surgeon: Definition, Training and Specialization

What is an orthopaedic surgeon? If you are suffering from a medical condition involving bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles or joints, this is an important question. Beyond visiting a primary care physician, a trip to a board certified orthopaedic surgeon could make all the difference in healing successfully.

Definition of an Orthopaedic Surgeon

An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician trained in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and conditions of the musculoskeletal system. These conditions often involve injuries of the bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.


All orthopaedic surgeons have completed a four-year degree at a college or university as well as a four-year medical degree. Further, orthopaedic surgeons have completed a residency program, commonly a five-year stretch of concentrated study in orthopaedics. Beyond residency, many orthopaedic surgeons complete one additional year of specialized training in an area such as shoulder and elbow or foot and ankle.

The rigorous educational requirements for orthopaedic surgeons provide the basis for their practice. However, beyond this process is a very important step of completing board certification.

Board Certification

Becoming board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery is very involved. The process includes a peer-review process as well as completing both oral and written examinations demonstrating a mastery of orthopaedic knowledge. If you are seeking an orthopaedic surgeon, finding one that is board certified is a wise choice to ensure the best care.

Orthopaedic Surgeon Specializations

If you have a specific injury or condition, it can be beneficial to narrow your surgeon search to a specialized doctor. Here are some of the common types of specialized orthopaedic surgeons:

If you are in need of an orthopaedic surgeon, the best thing you can do is research your options. Consult your primary care physician for a referral and ask around to trusted friends or family for recommendations. Be sure to check with your insurance company to understand your options.