Characteristics and Risk Factors of Spinal Fractures in Recreational Snowboarders Attending an Emergency Department in Japan

Clin J Sport Med. 2016 Sep;26(5):405-10. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000267.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to elucidate the characteristics of spinal fractures during recreational snowboarding and to determine the risk factors for these fractures.

Design: Case series study.

Setting: The Oku-mino ski area during the 7-year period between the 2005 to 2006 and 2011 to 2012 skiing seasons.

Participants: Eight thousand seven hundred twenty-three snowboarders with injures.

Interventions: Cases involved snowboarders with spinal fractures; controls were snowboarders without spinal fractures.

Main outcome measures: The characteristics of spinal fractures were assessed using a standard form and patient records, including radiographs. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to investigate risk factors for spinal fractures, including age, type of slope, snow condition, accident cause, self-reported skill level, experience level, and the use of protective equipment.

Results: Of 8723 snowboarders with injuries, 431 snowboarders presented with spinal fractures (4.9%). The most common spinal fracture was isolated transverse process fracture in the lumbar spine (33.2%, n = 143), followed by compression type fracture in the lumbar spine (25.1%, n = 108). Age (20-39 years), terrain slopes (half-pipe/box/kicker/rail), and jump-landing failure were associated with a significantly high risk of spinal fracture.

Conclusions: Among the recreational snowboarders, isolated transverse process fracture in the lumbar spine was the most frequent spinal fracture. Age (20-39 year old), terrain slopes, and jump-landing failure were found to be risk factors for spinal fracture.

Clinical relevance: Identification of characteristics and risk factors for spinal fractures during snowboarding is useful information to create a preventive strategy for the fractures and make snowboarding a safer sport.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coccyx / injuries*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sacrum / injuries*
  • Skiing / injuries*
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Fractures / epidemiology
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology*