Athletes and Injury: Snowboarder’s Ankle Is More Than Just a Sprain


What is Snowboarder’s Ankle?

Snowboarder’s ankle is a type of fracture that is relatively common among snowboarders but rarely seen outside of the sport. It accounts for less than 1% of all ankle injuries in the general population, but among snowboarders that number jumps to 15%. The medical name for this injury is a “lateral talus fracture,” and is defined by a hairline fracture to the talus bone, directly above the heel.

Why is Snowboarder’s Ankle Often Misdiagnosed?

The symptoms of snowboarder’s ankle are all consistent with the typical signs of a severe sprain (swelling, bruising, pain and tenderness), and because of this, few initial diagnoses will consider the possibility of a lateral talus fracture. The talus bone is not easily visible in a routine x-ray, so the injury is regularly missed. If you suspect snowboarder’s ankle, an evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon is often necessary to property diagnose this injury and begin treatment.

What is the Proper Treatment for Snowboarder’s Ankle?

If you do not receive a correct diagnosis for snowboarder’s ankle, the lack of proper treatment can lead to the bone not healing correctly, which can eventually increase the risk for arthritis and disability. Once a CT scan provides a proper diagnosis, ice packs, six weeks on crutches, and the use of a removable plastic cast are the usual set of treatments. In some cases, if the fracture is displaced, or if there are stray bone fragments, surgery may be required.

How Do You Prevent Snowboarder’s Ankle?

There is no definite way to avoid the injury while snowboarding, but wearing well-built snowboarding boots that allow flexibility while maintaining stability can help. Being properly trained in snowboarding techniques can also help you avoid the bad landings that often cause snowboarder’s ankle.


Reference: LiveStrong; Anne Hinze; “5 Things You Need to Know About Snowboarder’s Ankle”; November 18, 2009;

Reference: Reuters; Anne Harding; “”Snowboarder’s ankle” may be mistaken for sprain”; February 21, 2008;

Reference: PhysioRoom; “Snowboarder’s Ankle Explained”;