Snowboarders Beware: Talus Fractures Loom

For Release: February 11, 2008 

For more information, contact:
Peggy Reilly
Outreach Programs Manager
847-384-4379
preilly@aofas dot org

Rosemont, IL - Winter snow, hills and mountains, fresh cold air all work together to inspire snowboarders to take to the slopes. As this sport grows more popular, so has the incidence of injuries incurred by its participants, many to the ankle. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) confirms that in 2006, according to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, snowboarding resulted in 127,643 injuries.
Once considered a very rare injury, a lateral process of the talus fracture, otherwise known as a fracture of the outside of the ankle bone, has become much more frequent with the development and increased participation in snowboarding. Before the development of the snowboarding sport in Europe, starting in about 1980, these types of ankle fractures were relatively uncommon.

“The incidence of these fractures has certainly gone up with the increase in the numbers of snowboarders, although ankle sprains are also a common injury found among participants.” says AOFAS orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon, Robert H. Leland, MD, of Boulder, CO.

The mechanism of this type of injury seems to be a combination of dorsiflexion, or bending back of the foot and inversion of the ankle. Often, a lateral process of the talus fracture can mimic a bad sprain which can lead to a misdiagnosis. This fact emphasizes the importance of careful assessment of snowboarders’ ankle injuries. “As health care professionals and mountain clinics become more familiar with this type of injury, the rate of diagnoses has gone up which is extremely important for successful long-term results. Non-operative treatment of lateral process of the talus fractures usually results in a poor outcome. Operative treatment is usually best handled by an orthopaedic surgeon experienced in injuries to the foot and ankle,” noted Dr. Leland.

What causes these types of injuries in this sport? Various factors, according to Dr. Leland, including:

-Use of a softer boot than in skiing which doesn’t support and control the ankle as in a ski boot
-Bindings that do not release the boot from the board in a fall
-Aerial maneuvers by the snowboarder
-Position of the body and the board upon landing, more often with the lead foot at a 45º to the board

 

Preventative measures include:

-Obtain proper instruction to learn how to safely execute the sport.
-Snowboarders who land with lateral ankle pain and swelling should see an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon as soon as possible.
-Snowboarders should not try to imitate stunts seen in televised sports shows by professional athletes with extensive training.
-Never participate alone. Always have a coach or partner who is able to go for help if injuries occur.

 

Members of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society are orthopaedic surgeons (MD or DO) who have extensive training in the diagnosis, non-surgical care and surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves with a special interest in the foot and ankle.

The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. It creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders. The AOFAS provides leadership and serves as a resource for government, industry and the national and international health care community. To learn more about the AOFAS, visit www.aofas.org.