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Roughing, Slashing, and Spearing



Things that happen during a Roman chariot race! Buzzzzz!  Thanks for playing the game; the correct answer is: Name some of the many penalties a player can be charged with while playing the frosty game of hockey.

As if roughing, slashing, and spearing offenses are not enough, you can also add elbowing, butt-ending, head-butting, kneeing, tripping, hooking, fighting, clipping, and boarding to the mix. Is this why ice hockey ranks 3rd in overall injuries among young athletes, and why ice hockey injuries have doubled in the last 15 years? Surprisingly enough – no! However, these offenses are not helping ice hockey’s reputation much.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 66% of direct trauma injuries on the ice are caused by accidents, as opposed to taking intentional hits. Most ice hockey injuries are caused by players colliding into each other, goal posts, or boards, falling on the ice, or by being hit by a puck, a high stick, or a skate blade.

Ice hockey is a high speed, high impact sport, with just about everybody part being vulnerable to injury; despite the Michelin man gear. Although head injuries are the most common, player’s knees are at high risk as well.  The medial collateral ligament (MCL), located on the inside of the knee, is the most susceptible to sprains due to the position of a skater’s leg while pushing off the inside edge of their skate blade, and the recurrent contact to the outside of the knee.

Referred to as a sprain, MCL injuries are classified into three grades, depending on the severity of the injury.

  • Grade I: the least severe of the three grades, applies when only a few ligament fibers are damaged
  • Grade II: the ligament is still intact, but there is damage to a more extensive number of ligament fibers
  • Grade III: the most severe of the three grades, is a complete tear of the ligament

If ice hockey is your sport and your knee takes a substantial hit, your MCL may be sprained.  Aside from the pain, you may experience swelling and bruising on your knee one to two days after the injury or feel as though your knee may collapse at any moment, depending on the seriousness of your injury.  Of course, as with any injury, see your doctor right away; ignoring pain after taking a hit while playing sports is never a good idea.  Walking it off or throwing down a few pain relievers to mask the pain may worsen your condition.

The good news is, this type of injury usually does not require surgery, and, again depending on how severe your injury is, you will be back on the ice in no time.

A Grade I sprain is typically treated with an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, and R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). You should be ready to hit the ice again in one to two weeks.

Grade II sprains usually require a hinged knee brace in early treatment that will allow you to bend your knee but will provide support to your injured MCL, as well as the treatments for a Grade I sprain (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Once the pain and symptoms subside, in about three or four weeks, you will be able to return to the rink.

Grade III, the most severe MCL injury, requires the same R.I.C.E. treatment, coupled with wearing a hinged knee brace, crutches, physical therapy, and, in some cases, surgery. A Grade III MCL tear will keep you out of the game for about three months.