What are Motocross Injuries?
Motocross injuries are sustained from competitive motorcycle races. This sport takes place on closed circuits, incorporating jumps, stunts, and other acrobatic feats.
95% of motocross riders have experienced an injury to some degree during their careers. As a result of freestyle motocross, where freestyle tricks and stunts are becoming more and more common, injury rates have become increased. However, all participation in this sport carries a certain level of risk.
Types of Motocross Injuries
When we fall, our natural reaction is to catch ourselves with our hands to soften our landing and to protect our face. As such, when a rider falls from their bike, their immediate reaction is to attempt to break their fall with outstretched arms.
The most common injuries involve the elbow, and the wrist. Falling at high speeds means the arm experiences substantial force, causing injury.
Thumb injuries are the most common among Motocross hand injuries. The force transferred from the handlebar to the thumb can cause tears in the fibers of the medial collateral ligament of the metacarpal-phalangeal joint, leading to a MCL thumb injury. The MCL functions to prevent our thumb from moving from side to side, serving instead to keep it bending in a single direction when applying force with the fingers. This is needed for strong, painless grasp and pinch.
The is a complex structure, and any injury has the potential to be quite painful. Some breaks can be clean or may be more severe, with bones breaking in several places. When a break or a fracture is diagnosed, it generally means the radius has been broken, although carpal fractures occur as well. Wrist ligament injuries may be debilitating.
When the joint surfaces of the bones in our elbows are separated, the elbow dislocates. These injuries can be classified as being either complete or partial. In complete dislocations, the joint surfaces are completely separated. In a partial dislocation, which is also called a subluxation, the joint surfaces are only partially dislocated. Simple dislocations do not involve bone fractures but can still affect cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. They may heal or remain problematic due to incomplete healing.
A complex dislocation might involve severe bone and ligament injuries. In the most severe cases, blood vessels and nerves that travel across the elbow may be injured.
Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Motocross Injuries
Injuries to the elbow are usually are obvious due to obvious swelling and deformity in the area.
Common signs of injury to the wrist include swelling around the wrist joint, pain, and deformity around the break, tear or dislocation.
Hand injuries, specifically the thumb, typically presents with bruising and inability to move one’s thumb properly. Fingers may be similarly affected.
Causes of Motocross Injuries
Injuries to the arm tend to occur when falling onto an outstretched hand. You should try to roll away from your bike during and after a fall to prevent it from injuring you.
Getting a Diagnosis for Motocross Injuries
Although dislocations are usually obvious due to deformity of the arm, X-rays will lead to a more complete diagnosis. If details to the bone are difficult to evaluate, a computer tomography (CT) scan may be necessary. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is often necessary to evaluate ligaments.
Treatment Options for Motocross Injuries
Dislocations require restoring joint alignment, called a reduction maneuver. Simple dislocations are treated briefly with limited motion and then progress to exercises in order to attempt to regain full movement.
Complex fractures may require surgery to restore boney alignment. Without surgery in these instances, there is an increased risk of arthritis to the area if the alignment of the bones is improper, the relocated bones do not track appropriately, or the elbow continues to dislocate.
For sprains, a brief period of use of a sling and time off are recommended until the afflicted area can heal. Simple dislocations may require splints or slings for a brief period of time involving limited use. Physical therapy is generally recommended, because keeping injured joints immobile for long periods may diminish long term range of motion.
Interval x-rays may also be necessary as injuries recover to monitor joint alignment.
Complex fractures and dislocations may require surgery to maximize bone alignment or repair damaged ligaments. There is an increased risk of arthritis to joints if the re-alignment of dislocated bones is suboptimal, if the bones do not track well, or if they continue to dislocate.
In some cases, external or internal hinges will be added to joints to guard against re-dislocation. If blood vessels or nerves were damaged, multiple surgeries may be required to repair them.
Preventing an Injury while Riding Your Bike
Due to the nature of the sport, accidents, collisions, and falls occur often. Proper, well-fitted, and age-appropriate safety equipment all work to the rider’s advantage.
Riders should also make sure that they are always on a course that matches their experience level to avoid more serious injuries.
Prognosis for Motocross Injuries
Treatment time usually involves several weeks of healing time in most cases with conservative treatment options. Return to the sport may occur prior to complete healing depending on the injury and with medical supervision.
Surgical options could require patients to undergo 2-4 months of recovery, including physical therapy to maximize strength, coordination, and range of motion.
Listen to your body during this process, because ignoring simple cues like weakness, trouble holding onto bars, grip issues, or instability of damaged joints could lead to chronic instability or limited range of motion.
In many cases, patients can look forward to returning to their prior level of performance following proper treatment and therapy options.
If You Believe You Have a Motocross Injury, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute.
Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People who have been hurt while riding their bike should be evaluated to try and prevent further injury and mobility issues.
If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and obtain an accurate diagnosis.