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Snowboarder's Ankle

Snowboarder's Ankle

Commonly known as snowboarder’s ankle - and the cause of significant discomfort - injuries to this area of the body can be a regular occurrence. This particular injury, the snowboarder’s ankle, is caused when there is a fracture Talus bone. This bone is a little above the heel on the outer edge of the ankle. Statistics show that this particular kind of injury is as many as fifteen times more likely to occur amongst snowboarders, hence the colloquial name.

Anatomy of the Ankle

Diagnosis

Ankle injuries are often minor sprains, as a result of a twist or fall. Generally, sprains heal with minimal impact after a period of rest. As with most ankle injuries, they manifest similarly: both a simple sprain and a more serious fracture will first show as extreme tenderness and sensitivity to pressure, swelling to the area and a degree of bruising. But where the pain persists and the swelling does not subside even with the help of an ankle support, a Talus bone fracture becomes the more likely explanation. Most people with this kind of ankle injury do not have it diagnosed immediately. It is typically only after the initial stages of treatment for a sprain are shown to be unsuccessful that this option begins to be a consideration. A fractured Talus bone can be seen in an x-ray or within a CT scan, both practices being used widely by medical practitioners to explore patients' ankle injuries.

Treatment

Treatment options vary, but one of the most important steps is to be aware of the possibility of this kind of injury. For most people, initial treatment will be very similar to the management of a simple sprain. Ice packs and cold treatments can help to reduce the pain and inflammation, alongside standard pain killers and medications available from the chemist. An ankle support with inbuilt cooling technology can offer soothing and pain-reducing therapy alongside compression and support to the joint, which when combined can lead to the most rapid recovery.

The initial swelling needs to subside in order to make a thorough assessment of the injury, so reducing the inflammation is an important first step in treatment. Where a Talus bone fracture is identified, an ankle support is the most common option used. Six to eight weeks of wearing the support while resting the area and using crutches to avoid placing weight on the joint, is the usual recommendation. This is used for fractures where no bone shards have been displaced.

In cases where there are loose pieces of the fracture moving within the joint then there will usually be a need to undergo surgery. Following this, the same period of restriction will be recommended, accompanied by restorative exercises and physiotherapy including water treatments and pool running.

Ankle injuries are common, particularly for those with active lifestyles, but there are two main ways to try and avoid the issue. Strengthening the area with use of a wobble board can help to build protective muscle tone and support movement, whilst wearing an ankle support or strapping during activity can also be beneficial in reducing the likelihood of an injury.

Ankle Strengthening Exercises for Snowboarders from EZIA Athletic Club Nantucket on Vimeo.