Discover How to Prevent Winter Slips and Falls
Whether it’s a fracture or a sprain, the risk of orthopedic injuries is at its peak during the colder months. Understanding how to prevent winter slips and falls can help you enjoy this season without unnecessary pain or stiffness.
Common Slip-And-Fall Injuries
While anyone can injure themselves by slipping or falling, older individuals are more prone to these types of accidents—and winter conditions can magnify these concerns. Snow and ice on driveways, roads, and sidewalks can lead to both minor and major injuries, depending on the severity of a fall. Common injuries sustained from a fall include:
- Soft tissue injuries: Soft tissue injuries often involve sprains, tears, and other damage to your ligaments, muscles, or tendons. These injuries aren’t always visible unless bruising or swelling is present. If left untreated, soft tissue injuries can lead to chronic pain—commonly in the neck, shoulder, or back.
- Spinal cord injuries: Depending on how severe a fall is, you may run the risk of compressing, injuring, or even severing your spinal cord. The associated pain can be significant, causing limited mobility and, in severe cases, an injury may lead to paralysis.
- Sprains and fractures: Sprains and fractures account for a majority of slip-and-fall injuries and often occur by twisting or landing wrong on an arm, leg, ankle, or wrist.
While it isn’t always obvious whether a slip or fall resulted in an injury, pain is often the most obvious indicator something is wrong. If your pain does not subside after 24 hours, it is important to have an orthopedic doctor examine the injury to ensure you get the treatment you need.
How Do You Treat Slip-And-Fall Injuries?
The type of treatment your slip-and-fall injury requires will depend on the injury itself. When a fall does occur, however, it is often wise to stop and initially treat the injured area with ice—this will help decrease bruising and swelling. You should apply ice for 15 minutes at a time, several times throughout the day for the first 24 hours after a fall.
Minor injuries may resolve themselves with icing and rest. For more serious afflictions, your orthopedic specialist may recommend physical therapy. This type of nonsurgical treatment focuses on restoring function to your body to increase your range of motion, reduce pain, and prevent lasting disability.
While it’s safest to stay inside until roads and sidewalks have been cleared, there are a few things you can do to help prevent future injuries when you’re out and about. Try these effective winter fall prevention tips to help you stay safe this season.
- Take your time and use slower, shorter steps
- Wear footwear with extra traction or grip
- Use salt to melt ice covering outdoor surfaces
- Avoid carrying large or heavy loads while walking on slippery surfaces
The most important tip to remember if you do find yourself in a fall is to “tuck and roll.” Relax your muscles and tuck your chin to avoid hitting your head on the ground. This allows the force of the fall to be more evenly distributed throughout the body, reducing your chances of sustaining a serious injury.
Orthopedic injuries are more common during winter months when conditions are less than ideal.
While being prepared can help you avoid winter slips and falls resulting in injury, accidents do happen. Fortunately, our orthopedic specialists can help you get back on your feet to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year! Make an appointment today with one of our NY Orthopedics locations in New York City to start your healing journey.