Surfing Injuries

This time of year makes me think of autumn swells, especially with Easter around the corner. Our region is blessed with beautiful beaches and great surf spots, ideal for beginners to world-class surfers.

Overall, surfing remains a pretty safe sport. Injuries can occur in several ways. You can hit the bottom, particularly dangerous on reef breaks; you can be hit by a board-yours or another surfers, or by the wave. As waves get larger, they are exponentially more powerful, and if something goes wrong, they may cause a more extensive injury.

The most common surfing injuries are superficial scrapes and cuts. Uncommonly, severe and life-threatening injuries can occur. These include head injuries with loss of consciousness, spinal injury, and chest injuries or abdominal injuries with internal bleeding.

Bone and joint injuries occur and are more common in older surfers or advanced surfers. The common injuries that present to an orthopaedic surgeon are knee, ankle or shoulder injuries. In the knee, ligament tears can occur, especially to the medial ligament and the ACL.

Shoulder injuries are the second most common injuries I see, especially AC dislocation (separation of the collar bone from the shoulder blade) and shoulder dislocations. Shoulder dislocations can be particularly dangerous in big surf as swimming or paddling may be impossible. One of the more gruesome mishaps I have seen was a deep laceration of the Achilles tendon by another surfer’s fin.