An orthopedic surgeon discusses some of the most common hockey injuries and how they can be prevented
By James R. Seeds, MD
The 8 common (and serious) hockey injuries
- Head: concussions
- Shoulder: broken collarbone, shoulder separation/dislocation
- Elbow: inflammation (bursitis)
- Wrist: fracture due to falling on an outstretched hand
- Thumb: ligament injury when thumb is forced away from the hand
- Hip and Groin: muscle strains
- Knee: ligament injury
- Back: lower back pain/pulled muscles
- Have a pre-season examination by a Sports Medicine Physician. [On a related note, if you happen to live in or are visiting the area you can contact Dr. Seeds’s practice, Midwest Bone & Joint Institute, at (847) 931-5300.]
- Know the symptoms of a concussion. NEVER return to the ice until medically evaluated and cleared.
- Never step onto the ice without a properly fitting helmet, complete with full facial protection (facemask) to help avoid concussions, cuts, broken teeth, neck and eye injuries.
- Wear cushioned elbow pads to minimize injury due to frequent hits to the elbow.
- Tuck the tongue of the skate under the shin pad to protect the ankle from potential lower-leg lacerations caused by skate blades.
- Protect hands with quality hockey gloves that fit properly and provide the necessary support for the thumb.
- Attempt to break falls by bracing against the boards using the forearm rather than an outstretched hand.
- Always keep the head up and try to use the shoulder blade or hip/buttock area to protect the neck when making contact with the boards.
- Protect knees by wearing reinforced shin guards with padding over the knee area.
- Avoid dropping the shoulder when colliding with the boards.
- Wear hockey pants with shock-reducing padding.
- Stretch before and after practice.
- Always wear the properly sized shoulder pads that provide appropriate cushioning to protect from forceful blows to the shoulder area.
- Participate in a hockey-specific conditioning program that includes strengthening of the neck muscles.
- If injured, have a post-injury evaluation by a qualified Sports Medicine Physician. Always follow recommended treatments and timelines regarding a safe time to return to the ice.
James R. Seeds, MD, holds a double board certification in both Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. He was fellowship trained in Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute (Birmingham, AL) in the company of internationally renowned surgeons Dr. Lawrence Lemak and Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Seeds is a partner at the Midwest Bone & Joint Institute (Algonquin, Barrington, Elgin and Geneva, IL).
Physicians who practice at Sherman Hospital through its medical staff are not employed by the hospital, are not agents of the hospital and are independent contractors, unless noted otherwise. The information in this article is provided by James R. Seeds, MD. Sherman Hospital assumes no responsibility, nor liability for the content.
This article is reproduced by permission of Advocate Sherman Hospital, Elgin, IL 60123.