Snowboarder’s ankle is a fracture of the outside talus bone (one of the bones in the ankle.) It is called this because it occurs 15 times more in snowboarders than anybody else. This is an important injury to know since up to 50% (that’s right – about half) are MISSED BY DOCTORS the first time you see them. They are very hard to see on x-rays.
In snowboarders the injury usually happens after a high jump, especially if the foot is flexed. Often the injury feels similar to a lateral ankle sprain (lateral meaning the outside of the ankle – on the side of the little toe). Most people will have ankle pain and swelling. Other symptoms include constant high ankle pain.
As explained before this fracture is often missed by doctors because it is easy to miss on x-rays, but a special type of scan called a CT scan can help confirm the diagnosis.
The danger in missing these fractures is that the ankle might heal incorrectly resulting in persistent pain and arthritis. If recognized promptly, it can be properly treated to avoid these complications. At MD Lingo we believe that any snowboarder with an ankle injury should be assumed to have this fracture until proven otherwise.
To help prevent this injury it is recommended that snowboarders work on their balance and proprioception. Proprioception is a medical term that describes the ability to sense the orientation of your body in your environment. In other words it is your sense of the relative position of your own body parts and their movement. A good exercise to use is a wobble board. Some people also recommend wearing a sports brace that can help provide extra support to the ankle.
Hit the slopes hard but be safe!