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Knee pain after skiing – What to do?

Perfectly groomed slopes, fresh snow and sunshine – skiing is not considered one of the most popular leisure and vacation activities for nothing. But besides the fun of skiing, there is always the risk of a fall or other injuries. Not only professional and extreme athletes are affected, but also amateur skiers and ski beginners.

In the following article, I explain the most common skiing injuries, possible causes of complaints and therapeutic and preventive tips.


skifahrer mit knieschmerzen nach dem skifahren

The most common injuries while skiing

International studies show a significant decrease in the number of slope accidents over the last 50 years. This is primarily due to the increasing quality and quantity of slope preparation, an improvement in equipment and the use of protective gear, such as helmets or back protectors. Even though the relative risk of injury is comparable to that of running or tennis and thus a lot lower than, for example, soccer, the risk of injury in skiing should not be underestimated. For winter sports enthusiasts, there are numerous potentially vulnerable areas of the body.

About 10 percent of all hospitalized ski accident victims suffer a head injury. These include nosebleeds and abrasions in addition to more serious injuries.

Trunk contusions and Rib or collarbone fractures are more common in snowboarders than in skiers. Around 10 percent of the injuries make Femur fractures about 7 percent of all admitted patients suffer fractures of the lower leg. fractures of the lower leg. Somewhat rarer but still not to be disregarded are Ankle fractures or injuries of the ankle joint.

Due to insufficient warm-up program, muscle fiber tears can sometimes occur. Other possible injuries while skiing include dislocated joints, tendon ruptures, or what is known as ski thumb, where the tendon is torn on or off.

häufige verletzungen in den skiferien - verletzungen auf skiern

However, the joint that is most stressed by skiing is the knee. About one third of all patients admitted to the hospital have a knee problem; possible injuries mainly affect the ligaments or the menisci.

Causes of knee pain after skiing

Skiing is a great strain on the muscular and ligamentous apparatus and especially on the knee joint. The lateral loads and rotations put a lot of pressure on the menisci and strong pull on the ligaments.

If knee pain occurs after or during skiing, various causes can be responsible. These range from simple overuse or irritation to injuries to different parts of the joint.

Causes and risk factors of runner's knee

Well-trained muscles are important for supporting the knee joint and stabilizing cartilage, ligaments and tendons. If this is at the limit, the support function also suffers and injuries are more likely. Inadequately trained muscles lead to poor posture of the knee joint, which promotes knee pain.

knieschmerzen nach dem skifahren

Ligament injuries

Injuries or even tears of the anterior cruciate ligament or the collateral ligaments happen relatively often in skiing compared to other sports due to the significant tensile forces. In most cases, the cruciate ligament tears when the knee joint is bent, splayed and rotated outward, but the foot and lower leg are fixed and do not rotate with it.

Meniscus injuries

Meniscus injuries are also not uncommon in skiing. Typically, it is a pressure pain that can feel blocking and stabbing.

Unhappy Triad

The Unhappy Triad is a combination of injuries to the medial collateral ligament, medial meniscus and cruciate ligament, which occurs relatively frequently in skiing and snowboarding due to the aforementioned lateral traction forces compared to other sports.

Cartilage damage

The cause of mild to moderate discomfort in the knee, which occurs during skiing and not infrequently disappears on its own, is often cartilage damage, often behind the kneecap. If these persist longer and more intensively, this should be clarified by a doctor in any case.

More knee injuries while skiing

In addition to the listed causes of knee pain, there are a number of other typical knee injuries. These include, for example, patellar luxation and fractures of the kneecap or, not infrequently, of the lower leg.

Clarification by the doctor - quickly and competently

Rapid medical clarification of knee pain after skiing is important in order to treat possible injuries quickly and effectively and thus minimize potential consequential damage.

In the case of injuries following falls on the slopes, initial treatment usually takes place in the nearest hospital.

knieschmerzen beim skifahren

However, adequate further treatment and control by a practicing orthopedist in the further course are just as important. In the hospital itself, the resources are usually only sufficient for an initial clinical assessment and clarification by means of X-rays; if injuries to ligaments or menisci are suspected, as well as possible cartilage damage, further clarification by means of magnetic resonance imaging and a check-up by a specialist is indispensable. Untreated meniscus tears can, for example, lead to cartilage damage and thus to faster wear of the knee joint.
wear of the knee joint
lead With a quick and competent clarification, the appropriate therapy can be initiated quickly and efficiently. In addition, hospitalized patients should discuss and ensure the best follow-up care with their physician.

It is not only after the occurrence of pain that a check-up with the doctor is recommended. Also in advance, especially after knee injuries, a medical check-up can eliminate possible doubts and thus pick up the release for skiing.

Symptoms of runner's knee

If a fall occurs or the discomfort occurs immediately on the slopes, there are some helpful immediate measures. In addition to the immediate initiation of the rescue chain and the notification of the emergency call, the so-called PECH scheme can be applied.

kniebandage - erste hilfe nach skiunfall

Further treatment follows immediately after an injury or the onset of pain in the hospital or further down the line by the treating orthopedist. The particular therapy depends on the type of injury. Cornerstones include pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications and consistent physical therapy.

Orthotics, bandages or other aids can be used for injuries to the ligamentous apparatus. Often conservative measures are sufficient, but if this is not the case, surgery is required to relieve the pain and adequately treat the injury. If a collateral ligament tears, it usually heals with conservative measures such as immobilization with a knee brace and physiotherapy. A cruciate ligament tear represents a more massive injury. But here, too, the patient does not usually have to go under the knife immediately. The patient can travel home in peace and then go to the doctor he/she trusts.

Are all runners affected by runner's knee sooner or later?

To prevent possible injuries while skiing, there are numerous tips to follow in prevention.

Many injuries can be prevented with good preparation, lack of physical preparation can have a negative impact, and good warm-up training can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Simple exercises and ski gymnastics can prepare the body for the upcoming effort. When skiing, the knee is exposed to heavy stress and is most at risk in the event of a fall. The muscles surrounding the joint perform an important protective function and must be trained accordingly. Of course, it would be ideal to be on the move all year round or at least to do targeted ski gymnastics five to six weeks before the first turns, but: any training, no matter how short, is better than doing nothing.

skifahrer auf skier - verletzungen beim skifahren

In addition, knee bandages can help prevent. Such a brace relieves and stabilizes the knee and can thus relieve the pain, especially if you already suffer from knee pain. To prevent potential knee injuries and pain while skiing, material selection is also crucial. The right skis, adapted to the level and conditions and, above all, the optimal boot model are essential details that can make all the difference. In addition to the right equipment, the choice of slopes, adapted to the respective skiing skills, is also a decisive factor for prevention.

Skiing is knee skiing. Every year there are numerous injuries in alpine winter sports. The knee is the most commonly affected area of the skier’s body, accounting for one-third of all injuries.Knee pain after skiing can have a wide variety of causes and should be treated and managed depending on the cause and injury.

Numerous potential knee injuries can be prevented with proper preparation and equipment, but falls, accidents and pain cannot be completely eliminated.

If complaints or injuries occur, the doctor you trust should be consulted so that the appropriate therapy can be initiated quickly and competently and so that you can be made fit for the slopes again as quickly as possible.