Whiplash. Catch an edge on your snowboard or hit an unexpected cat track? Signs are a sore, aching, or stiff neck by the end of that day or the next. Whiplash is a strain of the neck muscles and possibly a sprain of the ligaments. When minor, your neck will benefit from letting it rest and heal (and not crashing again). If you have to hold your head with your arms to get out of bed, that’s often a sign of ligamentous instability or fracture. Go see a doctor. Static x-rays will help visualize fractures. Flexion and extension x-rays will show ligamentous instability (You should have seen Dr. Laura’s after her accident😮). Even if you don’t hit your head, whiplash can cause concussion/TBI, either in the brainstem or because momentum causes the brain to hit the skull. More on this below.
Ache behind your knee. We see this a lot in the winter, both in skiers and snowboarders. The hamstring and gastrocnemius tendons cross behind the knee and this area often becomes inflamed and sore. Foam rolling your hamstrings and calves regularly can help prevent this. Getting Active Release Techniques here helps relieve the area when it is already inflamed so that you can get back on the mountain.
ACL tear. You hear that pop in your knee, and it starts to feel unstable, and then swell. Well, you may not have heard a pop, but you may still have strained the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee and possibly the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). Once you’re safely off the mountain, get some ice on there and elevate your leg to decrease swelling. We screen for ACL tears in our office with the same orthopedic tests that the orthos and PTs do, so we are happy to take a look at it when it’s is not so swollen that it’s immobile. If you’re pretty sure you tore it, you are headed for an MRI, and they will also need to have the swelling down beforehand. From there, if you are surgery bound, know that doing PT before surgery gives you a better outcome and PT after surgery is essential to get full range of motion and function without compensatory patterns. In our office, we often see issues in the hamstring and popliteus (the muscle that crosses behind the knee) months or years after surgery, and we would love to help you fix those. To minimize your chances of an ACL tear: train to improve the muscle balance in the legs, especially strengthening the hamstrings, as well as the core and hip muscles.
Concussion/TBI. Never fall and don’t hit trees. Also wear a helmet in case you do (Scientific Review). Helmets with MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology are designed to reduce rotational forces caused by the angled impacts to the head. Symptoms of a concussion include: headaches, issues with concentration or memory, balance and coordination dysfunction, dizziness or “seeing stars”, ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, issues with fluent speech, generalized fatigue, difficulty sleeping, etc. If you or your child exhibits any of these symptoms after a hit to the head or neck, get it checked.
Shoulder injury. Dislocation, labral tear, rotator cuff injury, AC separation, SLAP tear. To minimize your risk: strength train, avoid the FOOSH- the Fall On Outstretched Hand (it’s safer to fall on your shoulder with your arm tucked by your side), and get ski poles that have a wrist-release. Get medical attention if you have dislocated your shoulder, have any paralysis in your arm or experience extensive weakness or numbness. If something doesn’t feel right and you can move your shoulder, we will check it out for you. If your shoulder hurts so much you can’t move it, we’re going to recommend diagnostic imaging.