Snowboarder's Wrist Q&A

Mr Zafar Naqui is one of our top Consultant Hand, Wrist & Upper Limb Surgeons at BMI The Alexandra Hospital. He specializes in complex Hand & Wrist trauma and sports injuries.

Here we ask him about the common snowboarder's wrist injury and how it's treated.

Mr Zafar Naqui
Snowboarders Wrist’ refers to a group of significant injuries that can occur when you fall at speed. Depending on the position of your wrist when you land, this could be a fracture of the radius bone, fracture of the scaphoid bone or rupture of the scapholunate ligament within the wrist.

Mr Zafar Naqui
Along with Skier's Thumb, 'Snowboarder's Wrist' has become an increasingly frequent injury as more of us head to the slopes each year. Worldwide there are an estimated 100,000 wrist fractures reported each year from snowboarding.

Mr Zafar Naqui
As both your feet are fixed to your board, when you lose your balance you will have a natural tendency to land on your outstretched hands, particularly when you first start to snowboard. However, there are two things you can do to minimise your risk. Firstly, practice how to fall safely. Whether forward or backwards, keep your arms out of the way and across your chest. Secondly, purchase a pair of decent wrist guards - the longer the better.

Mr Zafar Naqui
If you do sustain a ‘Snowboarder's Wrist’ injury you should seek specialist hand and wrist opinion urgently. In the case of a significant fracture to the radius or scaphoid bones, these may need operative fixation with a plate or a screw respectively. Sometimes the injury can be managed by cast immobilisation alone and this will be discussed with you following x-rays or scans. A scapholunate ligament injury may require repair and a period of cast immobilisation. Early decision making and intervention can often prevent chronic problems later on down the line. Furthermore, new minimally invasive techniques and specially designed implants can often enable a speedier return to work despite these injuries. 

Mr Zafar Naqui
Following your treatment, you will undergo a period of highly specific wrist strengthening exercises under the supervision of a specialist hand therapist. This is an important part of your treatment. This in combination with more practice at learning how best to manage a fall, should keep your wrists out of harm's way. 

Wishing you a safe, happy and fun filled trip to the slopes.

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