What is a Snowboarder’s Fracture?
By Dr. Jeffrey Frederick
March 07, 2013
Category: Sports Injuries
Tags: snowboarder   fracture   ankle fractures   skiing  

Winter sports are a fun way to enjoy the cold snowy winter, but can also involve serious injuries.  Downhill skiing and snowboarding are sports that involve lots of balance, speed and agility.  Unfortunately, due to uneven terrain or a lack of quick reflexes while on the slopes, just a split second decision can lead to a painful accident. Injuries that occur most often typically involve the knee, thumb and head injuries.  But even with the bulky protective boots involved in skiing and snowboarding, injuries to the ankles and feet can also occur.

A common fracture among has even been nicknamed a “Snowboarder’s Fracture” for its prevalence in this winter sport.  The injury is almost unique to the sport as the forces involved with the position of the foot in the snowboarding boot are hard to mimic in other circumstances.  The injury involves an important bone in the foot called the talus, which makes up the lower portion of the ankle joint.  The talus is an interestingly shaped bone with two separate cartilage portions, contact with three joints, and a tricky blood supply.  This makes it especially susceptible to serious and lasting injuries.  The lateral or outside part of the talus forms a downward sharp point, which is called the lateral process.  When the foot is suddenly forced into dorsiflexion (toes pointing upwards) with the ankle bent can cause this lateral process to jam into the calcaneus (heel bone), causing a fracture. The injury mechanism is also common in skateboarders, motor vehicle collisions (foot braces against the brake peddle or floorboards), falls from a height, direct trauma, or stepping suddenly into a hole while walking forward.  

The injury has been purported to compromise 34% of ankle fractures in snowboarders, leaving then 15 times more susceptible to the injury than the general population!  A snowboarder’s fracture can causes symptoms similar to a lateral ankle sprain and can be difficult to diagnose in the ER.  Podiatrists are very attune to the anatomy of the ankle, and along with a careful history of how the injury occurred will likely be quicker to diagnose and treat the injury.  This injury can lead to surgery to fixate the bony fragment and restore the anatomical positioning of the involved ligaments and joints.  Most of all – be careful on the slopes this season!  Enjoy winter sports without taking extreme risks and by knowing your level of skill.

Thank you for visiting our website!  Please continue to learn more about your foot care needs by reading other informative articles and by visiting our helpful links.  NorthPointe Foot & Ankle is located in Berkley, MI and has been serving people around the Southfield, Berkley, Ferndale, and Royal Oak area for over 30 years.  Request an appointment via our website or call our office at (248) 545-0100.