Winter sports are a seasonal delight for many people. It may be because of the energizing cold weather or the excitement of competition. However, enjoying the festivities is only possible if you remain in top physical condition. Any orthopedic doctor will tell you that improper preparation makes you vulnerable to injury. Read on to learn about preventing and treating winter sports injuries.
Wear Appropriate Gear
The human body can keep its normal temperature under a wide range of ambient conditions. However, extended periods in cold weather can cause injuries due to the low temperature. Frostbite occurs when skin is exposed to freezing temperatures and is a risk for winter sports enthusiasts.
Frostbite is not only caused by the cold temperature. Wind currents can also remove more heat from your body, amplifying the impact of weather. Most weather reports include a windchill temperature that estimates the combined effects of temperature and wind speed. For example, a wind chill temperature of negative 15 degrees can cause frostbite in just half an hour.
Meanwhile, hypothermia occurs when your core body temperature is low for a significant period. This condition slows down many bodily processes, with severe cases being life-threatening. Hypothermia can also affect your alertness, making you more vulnerable to other injuries.
Fortunately, sports medicine doctors can recommend many ways to avoid cold-related injuries. Use multiple layers of clothing to keep yourself warm; take off layers if you start to sweat as moisture can hasten frostbite; keep yourself well-hydrated, and make sure to do warm-up exercises before starting activities. Finally, always be alert for any loss of touch or other unusual sensations.
You are more prone to accidents in cold weather, as low temperatures reduce your body’s ability to sense signs of injury. Extended exposure to cold surroundings can trigger your body to shunt blood away from your extremities towards your core, and multiple layers of clothing can hamper your mobility. This diversion makes it harder for your muscles and limbs to function.
These reasons justify the advice of an orthopedic doctor regarding conditioning your body before participating in sports activities. When you start a sports program, progress slowly so that your body gets used to physical exertion at low temperatures. Build your strength through cross-training and appropriate recovery methods. Warm-up exercises also help increase blood circulation and prepare your body for physical activity.
Sports medicine doctors also recommend being vigilant on the signs of overexertion. Be cautious about pushing yourself with new and unfamiliar routines. By being conservative, you can minimize the chances of injuring yourself.
First Aid For Typical Sports Injuries
Aside from the typical strains and sprains, orthopedic doctors also observe peculiar conditions from winter sports. Knowing about these conditions will help you prevent them or seek immediate treatment if they occur.
Some patients experience a torn meniscus, which can occur due to movements that put damaging twisting forces on the knees. This condition can cause intense pain, swelling, and stiffness, and many are unable to initially straighten their affected knee.
Orthopedic doctors also report many wrist fracture cases during winter sporting events. These usually occur when people try to break a fall using their arms. A similar condition would be the skier’s thumb, which happens when ligaments of the thumb get injured.
For many of these conditions, immediate first aid is an effective way to manage initial symptoms. The RICE method — Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation — can provide temporary but significant pain relief and alleviate inflammation. Of course, any significant injuries should be assessed by an orthopedic doctor. They can recommend the appropriate treatment needed for your injury.
Non-Surgical Orthopedic Treatments
For non-severe cases, an orthopedic doctor may recommend non-surgical treatments. Typically, physicians will prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines to help manage discomfort. Patients may take these drugs orally or receive them via injection into the affected areas.
Doctors can also temporarily immobilize the affected body part, giving your body time to repair the damage. You will also be ordered to rest for a period ranging from several days to a few weeks.
When your condition improves, your orthopedic doctor may recommend physical therapy to help restore your mobility and physical fitness. Gradual exercises will help strengthen the injured joint and improve healing. Mild injuries usually lead to full recoveries.
Surgery and Rehabilitation
For more extensive injuries, surgery may be the best option. The exact procedure may vary, but most doctors intend to reattach torn tissues and remove damaged tissue. Your orthopedic doctor may recommend the replacement of severely damaged parts with artificial prostheses if the existing damage is severe and irreversible.
After surgery, you will need to rest under close supervision to ensure no complications occur. In addition, your doctor might recommend undergoing a rehabilitation program when the incisions have healed. This is to help you regain your strength and mobility effectively post-procedure.
Sports Medicine in Austin, Texas
Being vulnerable to injuries may prevent you from participating in fun winter sports activities. Therefore, it’s essential to minimize the risk of injury through proper conditioning and preventive measures.
All-Star Orthopedics of Austin provides healthcare tailored to the needs of athletes and active individuals. We specialize in diagnosing and treating sports injuries to help patients return to their active lifestyles.