As the days become colder, the chances that you’ll encounter slippery pavement increases. You could be walking down your front steps, driveway, or in a parking lot and fall down due to slick or icy ground.
A range of injuries can result, from bruising and sprains to a concussion or broken bones. Understanding the potential injuries associated with this wintertime hazard and how recovery works is very important to your health.
Injuries from Slipping and Falling on Ice
The injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident are related to where and how you land. When you slip on ice, your ankles, shoulders, wrists, back, and head are often vulnerable. Common injuries include:
- Bruises and Lacerations: Especially falling on hard ground, you risk lacerations or abrasions. The impact can also result in a bruise, causing blood to accumulate beneath the skin.
- Broken Bones and Fractures: Attempting to brace your fall often makes it worse. Based on how fast and the distance you fall, the impact can be enough to bend your joint out of shape and crack adjacent bones. Shoulders, knees, ankles, and elbows have the highest risks as these locations typically take the brunt on the fall.
- Muscle Sprains and Strains: A sharp, sudden fall can stretch and damage muscle fibers, resulting in inflammation or a full or partial tear.
- Concussions and TBI: If you fall quickly backwards or land on an object, you risk hitting your head hard enough to experience a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). The impact causes your brain to move back and forth and hit the inside of your skull. Symptoms of a TBI may be external, often characterized by bruising and punctured skin, or strictly internal, with possible personality changes appearing months later. If you hit your head, seek medical attention ASAP.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Landing on your back can possibly damage the bones and tissues of your spinal cord. Individuals who have spinal cord injuries may experience pain, full or partial paralysis, or respiratory complications.
- Joint Injuries: Even if you don’t break a bone, a slip and fall accident could lead to joint dislocation in the shoulder, knee, back, or neck.
How to Reduce Your Risk
Fall injuries are a significant concern during the winter months. To lessen your risks, people of all ages can follow the helpful tips listed below:
- Wear treaded, protective footwear to go outdoors.
- Walk at a slower pace, taking shorter steps on icy or slippery surfaces.
- Walk on textured surfaces like grass or gravel rather than pavement.
- Fully shovel all walking areas around your property and break up any ice below.
- De-ice driveways, walkways, and sidewalks around your home.
- Always take your cell phone when you go outside, so you can call for help in case of a fall.
- Prepare to tuck and roll if you slip to protect your head and limbs, and to better distribute the impact force.
Treatment Following a Slip and Fall Injury
Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury:
- When the fall occurs, assess your pain and mobility. You may need to call 911 if you are unable sit up or stand.
- Even if you’re able to get up and move, soreness, pain and swelling may not appear right away. Should these symptoms emerge later, ice the affected areas, use over-the-counter pain relievers, and possibly make an appointment with your doctor.
- A trip to urgent care can look for broken bones and soft tissue injuries. You may need to undergo an imaging procedure like X-ray, CT scan, MRI or ultrasound.
- If rest, ice, compression and elevation don’t have an effect after 24 hours, see a doctor.
- Broken bones may not be as obvious to children. If your child complains of pain after a fall, they could be dealing with a fracture and need medical attention.
After seeking medical care, treatment may include surgery and casting to fix a broken bone as well as physical therapy to further aide in your healing and recovery process of the injuries.
After a slip and fall injury, let the physical therapists at Absolute Treatment guide your recovery. To schedule an appointment, contact us today!