Tag Archive for: ACL Pain

Wet Spring Snow Increases the Risk of ACL Injuries for Skiers

Spring skiing often means wetter, heavier snow which can increase the risk of injury compared to skiing on lighter, drier snow. Knee injuries, including strained or torn ACLs (anterior cruciate ligament), are especially common in these conditions. Why can wetter snow create more injuries? There are a few reasons:

  1. Increased resistance: Wet, heavy snow provides more resistance when skiing, making it harder to maneuver and turn. This can result in muscle fatigue, which can increase the likelihood of mistakes, falls and injuries.
  2. Variable conditions: Spring snow can create a mix of conditions on the slopes, such as slushy patches, ice, and uneven terrain. These inconsistencies can catch skiers off guard, leading to falls and potential injuries.
  3. Binding release issues: Ski bindings are designed to release in certain situations to prevent injury. However, the sticky nature of wet, heavy snow can interfere with the proper functioning of the binding release mechanism. If a binding does not release correctly during a fall, there is an increased risk of injury.

How can skiers injure their ACL?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the key ligaments in the knee, connecting the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone) and providing stability to the knee joint. ACL injuries are common among skiers throughout the season, and many causes are exacerbated by wet heavy snow:

  1. Landing after a jump: Injuring the ACL is possible when landing from a jump, especially if the skier lands flat-footed or with their weight leaning back. This position places significant stress on the knee joint, potentially causing the ACL to tear.
  2. Twisting or cutting movements: Sudden changes in direction or twisting movements while skiing can place excessive force on the knee joint, potentially causing the ACL to rupture. This can occur if the ski catches an edge or if the skier tries to make a sudden turn while the foot is stuck in heavy snow.
  3. Ski binding release failure: If the ski binding does not release during a fall, the forces transmitted through the ski can put the knee in a vulnerable position, increasing the risk of an ACL injury.
  4. Collisions: Colliding with another skier, snowboarder, or a fixed object can result in a direct impact to the knee, potentially causing an ACL injury.

What is the difference between a sprained and a torn ACL?
The main difference between What is the difference between a sprained and a torn AC

a sprained ACL and a torn ACL lies in the severity and extent of the damage to the ligament.

Sprained ACL: A sprain refers to an injury in which the ligament fibers are stretched or partially torn but not completely separated. ACL sprains are typically classified into three grades, depending on the severity of the injury:

  • Grade 1 (mild): The ligament is stretched, but the fibers are not torn. There is usually mild pain, minimal swelling, and no loss of function.
  • Grade 2 (moderate): The ligament is partially torn, resulting in more significant pain, swelling, and some joint instability.
  • Grade 3 (severe): The ligament is completely torn, causing significant pain, swelling, and joint instability. This grade is often referred to as a torn ACL.

Torn ACL: A torn ACL refers to a complete separation of the ligament fibers, usually classified as a Grade 3 sprain. In this case, the ACL loses its ability to provide stability to the knee joint, leading to significant pain, swelling, joint instability, and often a feeling of the knee “giving out” during weight-bearing activities.

The treatment for an ACL injury depends on the severity of the sprain or tear. Mild to moderate sprains (Grade 1 and Grade 2) may heal with conservative treatment, including rest, ice, compression, elevation, and physical therapy. However, a severe sprain or complete tear (Grade 3) often requires surgery, such as ACL reconstruction, followed by an extensive rehabilitation program.

Here are six tips to help prevent ACL injuries and other knee injuries while skiing in spring conditions:

  1. Equipment: Ensure your ski bindings are adjusted correctly by a professional, as they are designed to release during falls to minimize the force on the knee. Remember, varying conditions, such as wet, heavy spring snow, may cause bindings to function differently or fail to function correctly.
  2. Strengthening exercises: Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles, can provide better stability and support.
  3. Warm-up and stretching: Warm up and stretch before skiing to prepare your muscles and joints for activity, reducing the chance of injury.
  4. Ski within your limits: Know your skill level and ski within it, avoiding terrain or situations that may be beyond your comfort level or could increase the risk of injury.
  5. Learn and use proper form: Taking lessons from a certified instructor can help improve technique and reduce the risk of injury.
  6. Take breaks: avoid excessive muscle fatigue by taking breaks during the day and pacing yourself. Be especially mindful toward the end of the day, when slushy conditions are likely to exist, and bottom of the mountain runs are most crowded.

While skiing in wet and heavy snow can increase the risk of injury, proper preparation and these safety measures can help limit the risks.

If you suspect an ACL injury, it is essential to consult an orthopedic or sports medicine specialist for a proper evaluation and treatment plan. The knee experts Dr. Purcell, Dr. Doner and Dr. Weinstein at CCOE can diagnose and treat ACL strains, tears, and other knee injuries. Click here for an appointment or to learn more.

Reasons to Consider Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Have you or a loved one been battling knee pain that just won’t go away? Have you been to the doctor to determine its cause but haven’t had any luck? If this seems familiar, you may have a condition that can be relieved with arthroscopic knee surgery. During an arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a flexible tube with a tiny camera through a small incision in the skin, which allows the physician to look in and around the knee joint for potential problems.

Arthroscopic surgery is a way to diagnose and treat a variety of knee issues. Below are some examples of conditions treated with arthroscopic knee surgery:

·       ACL, PCL ligament issues – The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) serve the important role of holding the knee in place. If these ligaments are torn, arthroscopic surgery can fix them.

·       Cartilage issues – Cartilage is a connective tissue that exists between joints in the body. If your cartilage is torn, an arthroscopy can treat it.

·       Bone issues – It’s possible your knee pain is caused by an out-of-place or fractured bone in the knee. This can cause a lot of pain and may require surgery. An arthroscopy can fix a variety of bone issues.

Knee pain can be caused by a variety of reasons and it’s important to figure out what is behind your symptoms. Treating the pain without locating its source is only half the battle. When the cause of your pain is difficult to determine, arthroscopic surgery can be used to visually identify a problem. A diagnosis and fix may be done in the same procedure.

There are many reasons to consider arthroscopic knee surgery.

·       To identify the cause of your knee pain. Arthroscopic surgery is used to not only treat a variety of knee issues but also find the reason behind symptoms. An arthroscopy may be called for when other diagnostic methods fail to identify a cause. In situations like these, arthroscopic knee surgery can figure out the cause and, in many cases, it can fix the issue right then and there.

·       It’s minimally invasive. Arthroscopic surgery is far less invasive than more traditional knee surgeries that involve opening up the knee and cutting through muscles, tendons, and ligaments to access the joint. An arthroscopy is performed using a smaller incision and results in far less tissue trauma and scarring in the surgery area.

·       Recovery is faster. Because arthroscopic surgery is less invasive, this means that there is a shorter recovery time needed after the surgery. You can get back to your regular routine much quicker than you would after other types of knee surgeries.

If you are experiencing knee pain and want to find a solution to it, it’s important to speak to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint and bone issues and will be able to diagnose and treat your knee pain. Your surgeon will lay out the options to fix your knee problems and will be the best person to identify whether arthroscopic knee surgery is right for you.

The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence can diagnose and treat your orthopedic issue. We’d love to discuss your treatment options, including arthroscopic knee surgery. Call (719) 623-1050 to make an appointment with one of our highly trained doctors.