What is Snowboarder's Fracture?

It is no surprise that snowboarding has always been about originality, diversity, and entertaining, but does come with inherent dangers.  Snowboarder’s fracture is a rare ankle fracture that is on the rise. 

The fracture involves the positioning of how the snowboarder lands with the foot turned in and toes pulled up toward the head.  The force of the impact is enough to break off the lateral process of the Talus bone – termed Snowboarder’s fracture.  The Talus bone is forced into the heel bone (Calcaneus).  

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This type of break is 15 times more common with snowboarders than in the general population. Many times the fractures of the lateral process of the Talus are not diagnosed in the early stages.  Even when x-rays are taken, the fracture cannot always be seen and many times a snowboarder is misdiagnosed as having a severe ankle sprain.  

Common injury signs and symptoms of a snowboarder's ankle are a history of ankle sprains, persistent ankle pain, and persistent swollen ankle. A CT scan should be considered when these symptoms occur for a long duration of time, because the scan will provide the best detail if there is a fracture.

Treatment for Snowboarder's Ankle includes:

  • Apply ice packs/cold therapy to reduce swelling
  • Protect the foot with a removable plastic cast
  • Use a buoyancy aid for pool exercises
  • Wear ankle support for protection
  • Use a wobble board for strengthening
  • Consult with a specialist
  • Possible Surgery

Note:  The wobble board, together with the ankle braces are commonly used in the rehabilitation of ankle instability.  Exercising by running in the pool using a buoyancy belt also allows the patient to regain fitness.

Also, some experts believe an increase in talus fractures among snowboarders might be related to the use of a soft boot that, unlike ski boots, aren't stiff enough to adequately protect the ankle from injury during crashes.  So for maximum protection from snowboarder's fracture, your snowboarding boots should allow for some degree of stability, but provide for enough flexibility for movement and balance adjustments.

Identifying that you may have this type of injury as early as possible can help reduce the likelihood of subsequent ankle joint damage.

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