4 Common Hockey Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Posted by SnapDev on Thursday, December 5, 2019
Updated on: Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Keywords: Hockey Injury Whiplash Sprains

It’s no secret that hockey is Minnesota’s bread and butter. With more than 100 hockey players per 10,000 people within the state, Minnesota ranks second in the nation for the highest concentration of hockey fanatics. But with all the thrills that come with a hard-earned goal or a strategic check into the boards, you can also expect some bumps and bruises. As with any contact sport, it isn’t uncommon for injury to come hand in hand with fun and experience.

Sometimes you can treat acute pain and injuries on your own, but an initial assessment and recommendation for treatment by a physician is always the preferred route, so as to avoid the risk of further injury. When hockey injury strikes, get into your nearest Urgency Room. With state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, physician-owned and operated Urgency Rooms are open every single day of the year—even during long hockey weekends. A bruise on the knee could be a serious injury that requires more treatment than an ice pack—instead of taking a risk, get the treatment you need.

Be prepared for what could happen on the rink. Watch out for these four common hockey injuries during your hit-packed hockey career, and get back on the ice quicker with the right care from The Urgency Room. 

Hockey Injuries

  1. Whiplash

You’ve likely heard of whiplash connected with car accidents, but this type of injury is also common in contact sports, like hockey. Indicated by neck pain and stiffness, back pain, and even pain or numbness in your arms, whiplash can happen any time there is an unexpected or abrupt backward or forward motion of the neck. This injury happens most often when getting hit or falling suddenly (imagine getting accidentally checked from behind or taken off-guard from the side), causing your head to jerk and your neck to get strained.

The stress, speed, and compaction of discs in your neck and vertebrae can cause minor to major soft tissue damage to muscles and ligaments. Understanding the severity of your whiplash is vital to a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, you might not even realize you have the symptoms of whiplash until an entire day after your incident—this is why it’s critical to stay aware of your body and seek medical attention if you have any concerns.

  1. ACL/PCL Injuries

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are two critical ligaments running in front of and behind your knee joint. In tandem, these ligaments provide stability and the ability to flex and extend your knee. As important as they are, they are also most often the first parts to become injured in an athlete’s knee.

Injuries to a PCL or ACL happen most often in sports like hockey, where there is a tremendous amount of side-to-side movement, cutting, juking, pivoting, and more. AN ACL sprain or tear typically happens when an athlete turns while their foot stays planted. A PCL injury, on the other hand, happens when an athlete hyperextends their knee or takes an extreme impact to it. 

Determining the severity of an ACL or PCL injury is usually done with an MRI scan—this will expose any tears. If torn, surgery will need to take place, but if it’s just a sprain, resting, ice, and elevation could be all you need. See email comments

  1. Bruises (Contusions)

We’ve all had our fair share of bumps and bruises in our lifetimes—but few have had as many as the average hockey player. Bruises, or contusions, occur when small blood vessels under your skin rupture. The blood that leaks under your skin from these ruptures is what causes your skin to appear black and blue (then every other color in the rainbow as it heals).

If pain or swelling is more than you would expect for a typical bruise or if the affected area is also swollen, painful, or red, it is wise to be evaluated at the UR. If a large bruise is keeping you from moving a joint, you could also have more serious damage, such as a broken bone.

  1. Ankle Sprains

Hockey is a sport that’s especially tough on the ankles. An all-too-common injury is the ankle sprain. This injury typically occurs when your ankle rolls inward, causing ligaments to stretch or tear. Seeking help for your ankle injury is never a bad idea, as ankle sprain damage can range from mild to severe. Sometimes, when patients think they have an ankle sprain, they instead have broken bones. Also, some types of ankle sprains are more serious and walking or bearing weight on a serious ankle sprain or fracture could make matters worse, so seek medical assistance.

Most of the time, you’ll feel when your ankle has rolled. You’ll feel almost immediate pain around your ankle, and that pain will soon be accompanied by swelling and tenderness. Many times, you will be instructed to RICE (rest, ice, compress, and elevate) your sprained ankle for a range of time, usually one to three days, as determined by your doctor. However, a severe sprain could mean more treatment, physical therapy, or even surgery in your future. 

How to Treat Hockey Injuries

If you are injured while playing some good old Minnesota hockey, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Whether you head to the emergency room or skip the long waits and visit The Urgency Room, a trained physician should be able to assess the extent of the damage and prescribe a treatment plan and determine the need for specialty orthopedic care. 

First, you’ll need to tell the physician about the exact circumstances that led to your injury. He or she will then examine the damaged area and order diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray. And X- ray and exam will help to reveal whether or not you’ve broken a bone, torn a ligament, or are simply dealing with a severe bruise. 

The exact treatment will depend on the type and severity of your injury. A number of injuries, such as mild whiplash and small contusions, will typically heal with the help of at-home care methods, such as ice, NSAIDs, and limiting physical activity. But more serious injuries, such as suspected ACL tear or a fractured ankle, will require close monitoring, specialist follow up and maybe even surgery. 

Be sure to follow your emergency physician’s care instructions and schedule a follow-up appointment with your regular doctor to evaluate the healing process. Although hockey is quite a big deal here in Minnesota, your health is more important—so don’t get back on the ice until you’re in good shape.

How to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injuries from Happening to You

While injury may seem unavoidable in the course of contact sports, there are steps you can take to stave off even the most common injuries. Before beginning any practice, make sure you’re adequately warmed up. Off-skates exercises like jogging and stretching will help warm and limber up your muscles. Pay particular attention to properly stretching the joints and muscles you’ll be using most during a hockey game or practice.

Additionally, double-check your safety equipment. Modern safety equipment is always best, as it’s specially designed to be lightweight to allow movement as well as endure multiple hard impacts. Always make sure your safety gear is being worn properly, i.e., skates are laced tightly enough to stabilize your ankle, mouth guard is closely formed to your teeth, chin strap on helmet is fastened, etc. Similarly, make sure you’re wearing all of your protective equipment, even if a drill has you just standing around—your ankles, neck, back, and more will thank you for playing it safe. Even a simple slip on the ice can wreak havoc if you aren’t prepared for it, which could have you sitting on the bench for the rest of the season. 

Here are some other tips for preventing injuries while playing hockey:

  • Keep your body in good physical condition during the off-season, whether through regular workouts or playing other sports.
  • Get regular physical examinations from your physician to ensure you’re in general good health.
  • Stay hydrated both on and off the ice.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Cool down and stretch after a game or practice.
  • Stay up-to-date on the rules of the game, and make sure your teammates know what to do as well, to minimize the risk of an impact with your fellow players.

When Hockey Hits Back, Get to The Urgency Room

Crashes and spills are simply a part of hockey—but that doesn’t mean you have to face the injuries that come with them alone. Staying geared up with the right safety equipment and making sure your muscles and joints are properly warmed up can prevent some serious injuries. But if you do get hurt, don’t hesitate to get to The Urgency Room. What you may think is just a bruise could be something more serious, and problems left untreated will only become worse.

Our passionate and experienced physicians started these standalone medical facilities as a way to help people with acute injury and illness without forcing them to stand around a crowded waiting room for hours. At The Urgency Room you can expect fast and efficient care in a comfortable and clean environment. With convenient and easily accessible locations in Eagan, Vadnais Heights, and Woodbury, you can easily cruise from a Minneapolis hockey tournament straight to a nearby UR to be seen within minutes—not hours. When the ice gets the best of you, get the help you need faster.

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