Weekend Winter Warriors

December 23, 2009
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Thanksgiving marks the beginning of many holiday traditions including pick-up football games, hanging holiday lights and family ski trips. It is during this time of year that injuries commonly see in athletes playing high impact sports are seen in the everyday business man or woman: the “weekend warrior” type of individual.

The injuries that make the newspapers are unfortunately the more life-threatening injuries, but those suffered in the lower extremity can also be quite detrimental to a person’s quality of life. Over the next two weeks, I will break down some of the common injuries experienced in the winter months, how they are treated, and what can be done to prevent them.

1. 5th Metatarsal Fractures: This is a fracture of a long bone in the forefoot that connects to the 5th toe. This type of fracture is typically associated with an inversion ankle sprain, which occurs when the foot flexes downward and the ankle rolls inward. Inversion ankle sprains can occur with normal activities such as walking, and are common in pick-up sports such as football and basketball. There are five types of 5th metatarsal fractures, but the most commonly seen is an Avulsion Fracture. Avulsion fractures occur when the tendon (proneus brevis) attached to the base of the 5th metatarsal bone, sharply contracts during an inversion sprain and avulses, or pulls off a piece of bone. Treatment includes RICE* and immobilization for 4-6 weeks in a below knee cast, where the patient should remain non-weight bearing. Prevention for this type of injury can include strength training with a physical therapist as well as strapping or bracing of injury prone ankles prior to athletic activities.

2. Boot-top Fractures – Fractures of the Tibia from Ski Boots: “Boot-top” injuries occur when skis do not release from the ski boots during collisions. The skiers body continues forward while the boots remain fixed to the snowy surface. The tibia and often times the fibula (the bones of the leg) will fracture when enough force is applied. This type of injury often requires reduction, meaning the bone pieces need to be realigned, and often times surgery is required in order to stabilize the bone. The patient will be immobilized for at least 6 weeks in a below knee cast, where the patient must remain non-weight bearing. Taking care to have properly fitted and adjusted ski boots can help decrease the risk of “Boot-top Factures,” along with ensuring that the boot release is appropriate for the level of skill of the skier. Ski lessons for beginners are also a must!

Although these types of injuries are relatively rare, you should be aware of them and take preventative measures to ensure your safety! If you do experience injury to the lower extremity make sure to seek medical attention immediately, whether that be by going to the Emergency Room or by calling your Podiatrist to make an immediate appointment.

Don’t forget to check back next week for more “Winter Warrior” injuries explained!

*RICE: Rest, Ice Compression and Elevation

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