Hockey Doc

The Hockey Doc: MCL injuries

By Dr. Rob LaPrade

Question: During my last game I was hit on the outside of my leg and immediately had pain on the inside of my knee. I was told that I have a Grade II MCL tear. What can I do to get back to the ice?

Answer: It appears that you have partially torn the medial collateral ligament, also called the MCL. The MCL is one of the strongest ligaments in the body. It is on the inside of the knee and attaches the tibia to the femur. It is most commonly injured when a skater sustains a direct contact injury to the outside of their knee which stresses and ultimately tears the ligaments on the inside of the knee.

Read more: The Hockey Doc: MCL injuries

The Hockey Doc: Skate bite

By Dr. Rob LaPrade


Question: I have been skating in new skates I just received for Christmas. I have been having more and more pain and swelling over the front part of my ankle every time I skate. What should I do for this?

Answer: The problem that you are describing is commonly called “skate bite” or “lace bite.” Skate bite is almost always due to an unbroken in pair of skates being worn for the first few times. It usually occurs early in the hockey season in players with new skates or inflexible old skates, or in the middle of the season for players who receive a new pair of skates for Christmas.

Read more: The Hockey Doc: Skate bite

The Hockey Doc: Wrist fractures

By Dr. Rob LaPrade

Question: My 12-year-old son had pain and swelling after falling onto his forearm last week, and was put in a cast after X-rays showed a stable radius fracture. Is there any way that he can get back to playing PeeWee hockey this year?

Answer: Wrist fractures are the most common fractures in PeeWee and Bantam hockey players. In this age group, wrist fractures of the radius, the larger of the two forearm bones, sometimes go through a weaker area of the bone, called the growth plate, which consists of cartilage. Because the forearm bones in this age group can still be relatively soft compared to adults they can also “buckle” on impact with no major displacement of the bones. Fractures that cause obvious deformity (not just swelling) are unstable and need immediate attention to reduce the displaced pieces, sometimes requiring surgery.

Read more: The Hockey Doc: Wrist fractures

The Hockey Doc: ACL tears


By Dr. Rob LaPrade


Question: I tore my ACL playing soccer this fall. Can I play hockey without surgery? If I have the surgery right now, can I play hockey later this year?

Answer: One of the most frequently asked questions that I encounter is when anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in hockey players should be reconstructed. The ACL is essential to providing stability to the knee for twisting, pivoting, and cutting activities. When an athlete has an ACL tear, the knee can actually partially dislocate with a significant twisting episode. Every time this happens, either the cartilage at the end of the bone or one of the menisci can be torn. More than 50 percent of athletes have been found to have torn their menisci or damaged their cartilage if they try and play through a season, so one should be carefully evaluated as to whether or not it is safe to skate through a season without an intact ACL.

Read more: The Hockey Doc: ACL tears

The Hockey Doc: Hip pointers

By Dr. Rob LaPrade

Question: I was checked hard into the boards and have a big bruise on the outside of my hip. It’s very painful and I have difficulty in extending my stride. How can I get back to skating normally? 

Answer: The injury you have described is consistent with a “hip pointer.” Hip pointers are very painful and can make it extremely difficult to skate and even walk. Hip pointers are caused by damage to the muscles which allow you to lift your leg away from your body (hip abductors). Injuries to these muscles can make it difficult to cross over your leg when skating, to perform on-ice transitions, and for your trailing leg to have a long stride.

Read more: The Hockey Doc: Hip pointers