Common Winter Injuries: Risks, Prevention, and Treatments
Most injuries occur when we are performing our everyday routines, and because we are not accustomed to these frigid weather conditions, we may be caught off-guard. It is important to remember that cold temperatures can decrease blood flow to our muscles, which can cause them to tighten up and possibly limit our range of motion, making us more prone to suffer any of the following:
- Slips and Falls
- Head Trauma
- Sprains, Strains, and Fractures
Injury Prevention Tips
Being aware of the potential hazards that cold weather conditions can carry, is the most important aspect to preventing injuries, always check the weather forecast before leaving your home, this way you will be prepared to face whatever mother nature has in store for us.
Preventing Head Trauma
Head trauma injuries are usually sustained during a fall and can be more common while practicing a winter sport like skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating.
If you are practicing a winter sport you should:
- Wear appropriate headgear for the sport you are engaging in
- Scan the route to ensure there are no trees, poles, rocks, or other obstacles on the course that could cause you to fall
- Never let children out of your sight, they can easily fall and hit their heads and not mention this to you
If you or anyone you know shows signs of a concussion after a fall like dizziness, nausea, confusion, or loss of coordination, rush to our nearest emergency room facility for diagnoses and immediate treatment.
Preventing Slips and Falls
As we mentioned before, cold weather can have an impact on our range of motion, this makes us more likely to lose our balance and slip or fall.
To prevent injuries related to slips and falls you should:
- Plan Ahead: if you must go out in cold weather conditions, make sure you plan your route, make sure there are no obstacles on the sidewalk, don’t rush yourself, it is better to get to where you are going a few minutes late than not getting there at all.
- Wear Proper Clothing and Shoes: Warm clothing will shield your muscles from extreme temperatures and help keep them from tightening up. Use shoes that provide some sort of traction, this is especially important if there is snow or ice on the sidewalks or roads.
- Walk like a Penguin: It may not be the most elegant thing to do, but short, shuffling steps, can help prevent you from slipping or falling.
Preventing Strains, Sprains, and Fractures
Our everyday activities can have unexpected consequences when we perform them in cold weather conditions and can easily lead to strains and sprains in our neck, back, shoulders, knees, ankles, wrists, and elbows. To prevent these, try to:
- Stretch and warm up your muscles before you start your activity, this could be anything from taking the dog for a walk, taking out the trash, lifting heavy objects, or practicing a sport.
- If you need to shovel our driveway or rake your yard, remember not to over exhort yourself, pick small loads of snow or leaves at a time, and pause frequently.
- Keep Hydrated, it is easy to forget to drink plenty of liquids during the winter, but, cold weather conditions can dehydrate you just the same as hot weather conditions can.
- If you lose your footing and fall avoid trying to catch yourself with your hands, as the impact can result in sprained or even broken wrists and elbows, instead try to land on your forearms, this will prevent stress on more delicate bones.
- If you have weak wrists, the use of a wrist guard may help prevent injuries in this area.
Safeguard yourself and your family during these cold winter months, limit your time outdoors when possible, and keep an eye on any potential hazard, at ER of Texas we always advocate for prevention but are ready to treat any injury when it happens.
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