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Avoiding Common Winter Injuries

Older woman falling on the ice while ice skating

A Cold Weather Threat

If you’ve experienced an injury or pain while performing a wintertime activity, you are not alone. Personal injury during winter is likely to occur from performing simple activities, especially if you aren’t prepared to prevent an incident. From your back, shoulder and neck to joints and knees, pain and injury in these areas are commonplace during the winter.

The good news? Preventing winter injuries is possible, and you can enjoy the season without unnecessary pain and stiffness. Read on to discover information about winter back injuries, winter shoulder injuries, and — most importantly — health and safety tips to avoid any orthopedic winter injuries.

The Potential for Multiple Injuries

Slipping and falling on ice can be a scary experience. Ice can be difficult to see both at night and during the day. What looks like water pooled on the pavement can actually be a sheet of ice. You could step off the curb and right onto a slippery ice patch. When this happens, severe injury can occur if you fall to the ground. You may be able to recover and only skid briefly, but even if you don’t end up falling, you can wrench your back or experience another kind of injury in your attempt to recover.

Anyone is in danger of injuring themselves by falling or slipping on ice or snow, but seniors are especially at risk. In fact, according to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury among older Americans, and winter weather conditions only exacerbate that concern.

There are a variety of potential injuries that can occur from falls on ice, but the most common include the following:

  • Bruises
  • Head or brain injuries, including concussions
  • Ankle strains and twists, and other kinds of muscle sprains and ligament strains
  • Broken bones, most commonly hip and wrist fractures
  • Back injuries, including spinal compression fractures
  • Injuries to the spinal cord

Take Precautionary Measures

Prevention is always the best method to avoid a slip or fall on icy days, and there are a few things you can try to keep you and your family safer:

  • Wear proper footwear made for icy and snowy conditions.
  • Keep your stride shorter and avoid long steps.
  • Slow things down — try not to rush or run outdoors.
  • Keep de-icer or sand on hand for when things get slippery around your house.
  • In case of injury, always have your cell phone handy.
  • If you need to do outdoor chores, take your time and don’t hurry.

If You Do Take a Spill, Act Smart!

Unfortunately, even with the best preventative measures, accidents happen. Skeletal and muscular issues arise every winter when people fall on ice or snow. If the fall is serious, you may need to call 9-1-1 or go to the ER immediately.

However, some people are unaware that they have a severe injury. This may be because they don’t feel the effects of the fall immediately, or they believe their pain and discomfort will pass with time. Symptoms like pain or swelling should not be ignored, and it’s important to seek the advice of a medical professional to assess your condition.

If you experience an injury on the ice or snow, whether it’s from slipping and falling or from attempting to prevent a fall, contact a physician or go to a local emergency room as soon as possible to determine if there is a serious injury. They will also be able to offer an effective treatment plan that meets your individual needs. Camisa Physical Therapy can assist with rehabilitation from your injuries and post operative recovery.