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Snowboarder’s Fracture

Snowboarder’s fracture is a fracture of the lateral process of the talus, on the outside of the ankle above the heel. It can happen if the toes are brought towards the shin (dorsiflexed), causing the talus to be locked in place by the bones that surround it. If the foot is in this position, and then the ankle is rolled outwards with enough force, the bone will fracture. In some cases, you may have been diagnosed with an ankle sprain that hasn’t improved over time, even though your X-rays appeared to be ‘normal’.

What causes snowboarder’s fracture?

As the name suggests, this type of fracture is more common when the ankle is sprained while snowboarding or skiing. It can be caused by twisting and forcing the ankle up and outwards, possibly when landing after a jump.

What are the signs of having snowboarder’s fracture?

Signs include ankle pain on the bony part that sticks out on the outside of the ankle (lateral malleolus of the fibula), as well as swelling and bruising. In many cases, you may have been misdiagnosed as having an ankle sprain but the pain hasn’t improved.

How is snowboarder’s fracture diagnosed?

Having a diagnosis as soon as possible is the best way to avoid long term problems. If you continue to use the joint, small fragments of bone that have broken loose during injury can accumulate, leading to long term joint damage, including arthritis. During your first appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your symptoms with Mr Heidari, who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. He may also for you to have X-rays and a CT scan, which can back up the diagnosis.

What does treatment involve?

Not everyone with a snowboarder’s fracture needs to have surgery. If the CT scan shows that there are no loose fragments of bone, you will usually be given a cast and advised to keep weight off the ankle for up to six weeks.

If there are loose fragments of bone, Mr Heidari will normally advise carrying out surgery to remove them and then fix any displacement. After surgery, you’ll be fitted with a removable plaster cast and advised to keep weight off the ankle for around six weeks before beginning a gentle programme of rehabilitation exercises with one of our physiotherapists.

This information is written as a guide to your treatment but it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.