Common Hockey Injuries

The cold winter has arrived and the hockey season is in full
force.  Around this time of year many
players are playing with minor bumps and bruises, but what are some common
injuries that are more than just bumps and bruises?  We will start with the head and work our way
down the body talking about the more common injuries that occur in hockey.
Concussions are at the top of the list, especially with contact
activities.  Common symptoms are, but not
limited to: dizziness, confusion, headache, memory impairment and/or “feeling
off.”  Loss of consciousness is not
required for a concussion to be sustained. 
Players, coaches and parents should be aware of all the signs and
symptoms of a concussion.  If a player is
suspected of having sustained a concussion they should be evaluated by a
medical professional before returning to play.
The most common shoulder injuries are a fractured clavicle (collarbone)
and a separated shoulder.  Both injuries
tend to occur when the shoulder itself is the main focus of contact on a hard
surface such as the ice, boards or even sometimes another player.  Treatment for these injuries may involve a
sling, rest, and physical therapy.  In
some cases surgery may be required.
These days elbow injuries have become less common
due to the technology of the protective equipment.  However, if the point of the elbow hits a
hard surface with enough force it can cause a bursitis.  This usually presents as a “puffy” pad like
area around the elbow itself.  To prevent
this injury make sure elbow pads provide enough protection (replace them if
they are getting old and worn out) and fit properly.
Fractures of the wrist may result if a player falls forcefully against
the boards or ice on an outstretched arm. 
The player should attempt to fall on their forearm rather than their out
stretched wrist if possible.  Most times
this injury is going to be treated with casting and sometimes surgery.
The bent over posture of a hockey player while skating makes them
susceptible to back injuries.  Adding
contact can increase stresses as well. 
Due to these factors muscle strains are the most common back injury.  Core strengthening can help in prevention of
these injuries.
Due to the nature of the hockey stride, groin and hip flexor strains
are the most common.  These can be
prevented by a strong offseason conditioning program as well as stretching
before and after participation in hockey. 
If these injuries do occur, they are treated very successfully with rest
and physical therapy.
Good news for hockey players! 
ACL and meniscus tears tend to be less common in hockey than other
sports.  While the hockey stride makes
these two injuries less common, it does contribute to more MCL injuries.  These usually occur when another player falls
onto the outside of a player’s leg, mid-stride. 
Again these injuries are usually treated successfully with rest and
physical therapy.

A common mechanism for injury to the foot is blocking a puck.  What usually results is a bone contusion
(bruise), which can be rather painful. 
In some cases blocking a shot can also cause a fracture, which would
have to be diagnosed by X-ray.   Ankle sprains are less likely to occur in
hockey than other sports due to the skate being rather rigid and providing

This article was written by Cole Abernathy, ATC. He practices at our Chanhassen clinic.