When to Go to the ER After a Skiing Accident

Sports Injuries

Dec 7, 2023


Skiing is a fun and exhilarating sport to enjoy during this time of year; unfortunately, many severe winter injuries can occur as you slide down a snowy hill with obstacles and dangers at every turn. Understanding when to seek emergency care after a skiing accident is crucial for ensuring prompt and appropriate treatment (Hint: you should always get checked out, even if you feel you didn’t sustain any injuries)

The emergency medical staff at Complete Care are here to inform you about what injuries can occur while skiing, what to do after a ski accident, and how to prevent these injuries from occurring. 

You should go to the emergency room after a skiing accident if you:

  • Have fallen
  • Are showcasing concussion symptoms 
  • Feel severe pain or can’t bear weight on a limb
  • Can’t move a limb, your neck, or any other part of your body
  • Notice any disfigurement or deformities 
  • Have bleeding that doesn’t stop with pressure  
  • Are having difficulty breathing 

How do most ski accidents happen?

Skiing is a lot of fun, but it also comes with risks as you are more likely to get hurt participating in any sport that takes place on a slippery surface such as snow or ice. 

While you’re shredding on the slopes, you have to look out for yourself, other skiers, and obstacles, and doing all of that while accelerating at incredibly high speeds can make the aftermath of an accident all the more severe.  

Skiing accidents often occur due to the following reasons:

  • Losing control of your skies
  • Collisions with other people
  • Collisions with obstacles (trees or barriers for example)
  • Falling at high speeds 
  • Not warming your body up properly 
  • Not wearing the necessary protective equipment

In fact, self-inflicted slip-and-fall injuries are stated as the number one cause of skiing accidents. This probably comes as no surprise, as falling is more likely to happen when you are strapped to skis (or a board), racing down slippery snow at a high speed. 

What to do after a ski accident

First things first, do not try to move after the accident occurs. There is a chance that you have sustained injuries and quick movements can worsen the situation. Stay as calm as possible as you assess the situation and see how your body feels: do you notice any pain, see any bleeding, or suspect a head or spinal injury has occurred? 

After you have assessed your injuries, try to move around a little if you can. Sometimes, in accidents like these, pain can be delayed. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, stay put and have someone call for help. If you notice any bleeding, begin applying pressure and elevate the area until help arrives. 

Have someone bring you to the emergency room or have them call an ambulance so that you can get treatment as soon as possible for your injuries. 

How do I know if I should go to the ER after a fall?

No matter how minor or severe your injuries may seem, you should go to the emergency room after a skiing accident, especially if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, or other concussion symptoms 
  • Severe pain
  • Inability to move a limb, your neck, or any other part of your body
  • Noticeable disfigurement or deformities 
  • Persistent bleeding after pressure has been applied  
  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain

How do you treat ski injuries? The emergency medical staff will be able to diagnose any injuries you may have sustained after a skiing accident and will create a tailored treatment plan depending on your symptoms. 

Common skiing accident injuries 

At Complete Care, there are a few common injuries that we see in our patients after a ski accident. These injuries can range from mild thumb sprains to severe spinal injuries, and we are fully equipped to handle them all. If you decide to hit the slopes this season, be aware that without proper protection and focus, you could sustain any of these injuries. 

Knee injuries

What is the most common injury while skiing? When patients come to us for treatment after a ski-related accident, particularly downhill skiing, the odds are they have sustained a knee injury. Because skiing relies so heavily on the person bending their knees to gain speed and steer, injuries can range from minor strains to severe ligament tears, fractures, or dislocations that require medical attention. 

Wondering when to see a doctor for knee pain? If your knee pain persists, worsens, or is accompanied by swelling, instability, or inability to bear weight after a ski accident, head to the emergency room for help.


Whether you crash into a tree or collide with another skier, collisions are unfortunately common ski accidents that can result in serious head injuries like a concussion. Any blow to the head, no matter how minor, should be checked out by a medical professional to ensure that there is no life-threatening damage. 

What will the ER do for a concussion? Here at Complete Care, we will likely use X-rays and CT scans to confirm the diagnosis and form a treatment plan based on the unique circumstances of your injury.  

Broken bones, sprains, and muscle strains 

Skiing utilizes the entire body, not just the lower body, although injuries to the legs and feet do tend to be more common. If you fall while skiing, there is a chance that any part of your body could have been affected. Broken or fractured bones, torn ligaments, and muscle sprains and strains are all common skiing accident injuries that we see in the emergency room. 

Spinal injuries 

High-speed, high-contact sports like downhill skiing put you at risk for dangerous spinal injuries. Something that many skiers tend to forget is that if you fall while skiing, there isn’t much to break your fall immediately — and you can tumble down a slippery slope for quite some time before coming to a stop. Although snow may seem better than concrete, you can still withstand painful spinal injuries on your way down the slope. Collisions with other people, objects, or even your own skis can cause shock to the body when you’re moving at such high speeds. 

The key to preventing winter sports injuries is to strengthen your lower body, warm up your muscles properly, wear the proper protective gear, and be highly alert while you’re skiing. Practicing caution and diligent awareness can be the difference between having a great skiing experience and ending up in the emergency room. 

Injured after a skiing accident? Complete Care offers quality treatment with low wait times.

A wonderfully fun ski trip can be easily ruined by a skiing accident. Just a simple slip, fall, or crash can have you spending your winter holiday time in an emergency room. Although this sport is meant to be exhilarating and exciting, practicing caution and ski safety tips should always be your top priority.

If you’re still unsure of what to do after a ski accident, head to a Complete Care facility for treatment as soon as possible. No matter how minor or severe your skiing accident injury may seem, it is always better to be safe than risk an injury worsening over time, leading to other complications. 

We have multiple locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs that are open 24/7! Be sure to read our other winter health tips so that you can have a safe and healthy winter season! 

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