January 22, 2014

Common Winter Injuries (and How to Avoid Them)

Common Winter Injuries (and How to Avoid Them)

With the wet, cold, icy weather, the conditions are ripe for accidents to happen and people to sustain injuries. At Aria Health, we want to help keep you out of the emergency room and avoid extended stays in the hospital. So here are a few common injuries we see during the wintertime and some tips on how to avoid them. (source: doctoroz.com)

These injuries are probably the most common of the season. Wrist fractures and more serious hip fractures and head injuries from falls top the list during treacherous snow and ice storms... for seniors, the effect of the injuries are even worse.

  • If you have to walk in snow or ice, take your time with slower and shorter steps.
  • Make sure you are wearing warm insulated footwear with good rubber tread for traction.

Shoveling snow can cause injuries to ligaments and muscles, especially in the lower back. Broken bones, most commonly in hands and arms, are also possible. In addition, the strain can pose a great risk to those with heart disease - especially those 55 and over.

  • Pace yourself and take frequent breaks.
  • Wear slip-resistant boots and dress accordingly.
  • Push the snow instead of lifting it or twisting and throwing it over your shoulders.
  • Stop immediately if you get short of breath, start sweating profusely, or have chest pain.

Frostbite can occur in an exposed area of your body within 5 minutes when the temperature is between 0 and -19 Fahrenheit. This is when your tissue literally freezes with ice crystals forming within the tissue around the cells. However if you continue to be exposed to the elements and the tissue freezes all the way through, it causes permanent damage to muscles, nerves and blood vessels. If you do experience frostbite:

  • Get out of the cold.
  • Remove any constricting wet clothing, especially around affected frostbitten area.
  • Elevate that area to reduce swelling.
  • Never rub or massage the area; it damages the tissue further. Never rub with ice or snow.
  • Never re-warm an affected frostbitten area. If there is a chance of re-freezing, it is better to leave the part frozen, since more damage occurs to the tissue if it thaws and then freezes again.

John Smith
John Smith

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