Jock Doc

Skier can’t straighten knee after a twist on the slopes

Q. While skiing last week, I twisted my left knee and felt a pop. I was unable to straighten my knee and the ski patrol had to take me down from the mountain. X-rays were taken, which showed no evidence of fracture and I was given a knee brace and told to see an orthopedic surgeon. The pain is better but I still can not straighten my knee and wonder what it is that I did.

Knee injuries from skiing are extremely common, even in South Florida, which has one of the largest ski clubs. It is not unusual that Monday mornings between Thanksgiving and mid-April, I will have a couple of people in my waiting room who were injured while skiing. Probably the most common injury to the knee from skiing is an anterior cruciate ligament “ACL” tear. This frequently happens during a twisting type motion in which the binding does not release. However, isolated ACL injuries usually do not result in the knee being locked and not able to fully extend.

In the last week, I have seen two other ski injuries with locked knees that were the result of large meniscal cartilage tears in which a piece of the meniscus flipped into the joint, preventing full extension. This is analogous to putting a stick into a bicycle gear and the gear not functioning. Most meniscal tears of that size can be fixed with arthroscopic surgery that can result in an excellent result and near normal function. I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon to confirm this, as meniscal tears can be associated with ligament injuries such as ACL and MCL tears. You likely will require an MRI scan to further help establish the diagnosis.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to

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