With the Australian snow season ramping up and fresh snow on the horizon more and more people will be flocking to the slopes. Skiing has been the main draw for many years, however in recent times snowboarding has increased in popularity dramatically.
With this increase in popularity comes an increase in a specific ankle injury which has been aptly named ‘snowboarder’s ankle’. This rare injury is a fracture of the lateral process of the talus and reportedly occurs with the foot forced upward (dorsiflexion) and into inversion or eversion. This is commonly noted when someone has jumped from a height.
Although rare in the general population, this injury accounts for 15% of injuries in snowboarders specifically. The reason why skiers do not typically present with this type of injury is because ski boots are more rigid around the ankle, keeping them locked in place. Whilst the snowboard boots, although locked into the board have a little bit more give and are typically softer around the ankle.
Symptoms of Snowboarder’s Ankle
Snowboarder’s ankle has similar presentation to that of a badly sprained ankle which is why it is important to monitor your symptoms if an ankle injury occurs on the slopes. A huge 33-41% of these injuries are reported to be missed on initial inspection and just diagnosed as a bad sprain as X-rays in this area are often hard to distinguish. Symptoms of this injury may include:
- Extreme tenderness and sensitivity to pressure around the back of your ankle.
- Swelling to the area.
- A degree of bruising.
If initially cleared of a fracture, be sure to have it checked again by a podiatrist if your pain levels have not eased after 1-2 weeks.
Snowboarder’s Ankle Treatment
Initial treatment for snowboarder’s ankle includes:
- RICER (rest, ice, mobilization, elevation and referral).
- Initial immobilisation for a minimum of 6 weeks (CAM walker or plaster cast).
- Surgery when there is severe displacement of the fracture (in extreme cases).
The aim of treatment in these cases is to minimise swelling, inflammation and pain, and to provide the best conditions for healing to take place. Following the initial treatment rehabilitation is a necessity to ensure a safe return to activity. Intensive rehabilitation reduces the recurrence of future injury.
At Melbourne Podiatrists and Orthotics we are well trained to assess and manage all ankle problems including snowboarding and skiing injuries. Our friendly Melbourne podiatrists can help you get back to the activities you enjoy and back to your full potential.