maarten-duineveld-unsplash ski injury

Skiers beware – how to avoid a shoulder injury

Skiing is often associated with knee injuries, but did you know that the shoulder is at risk too? Mr Siddiqui, Consultant Upper Limb Orthopaedic Surgeon, takes us through some common injuries and what to do to prevent them from occurring.

Q: Why is the shoulder at risk?

A: The shoulder is a very mobile joint with a degree of flexibility that can easily be injured by a fall or overuse, in any age group and any degree of fitness.

Q: Can a fall on snow really break bones?

A: Yes, a fall can easily lead to injury to the bones, tendons, or ligaments, even on relatively soft snow. An injury to the bone, called a fracture or break (both mean the same thing) can occur to any of the bones around the shoulder. Ensuring good balance with strong core and leg muscles is the best way of avoiding these injuries, which often need surgery.

Q: What happens in a shoulder dislocation?

A: This is where the joint comes out of place, and can result in on-going pain and further dislocations. The ball-and-socket (gleno-humeral/shoulder joint) or collarbone joint (acromio-clavicular joint/ACJ) can be affected. X-rays and scans may be needed to decide if surgery is needed.

Q: What is the rotator cuff and how can it be injured?

A: These are tendons around the shoulder and are responsible for strength and stability. Injury can cause chronic pain and weakness, which may result from a fall or repetitive use. A minor injury may settle down with physiotherapy but it is not uncommon to need surgery to repair a tendon that has become detached.

Q: What is the best way to prevent shoulder injuries?

A: Ensuring the shoulder muscles are as strong as possible is the most important way of preventing injuries, along with good core muscles and leg strength to avoid falls. This is not simply about power, but also their capacity to deal with repetitive use, and their ability to react rapidly if a fall is imminent. The physiotherapy team at the New Victoria hospital have an excellent exercise regime to train these muscles to help prevent shoulder injuries, and hopefully avoid a trip to a shoulder surgeon! New Victoria Physiotherapy will also be running ski-fit classes from mid-January.

Mr Siddiqui is a Consultant Upper Limb Orthopaedic Surgeon at New Victoria Hospital.