Winter is nearly here and some areas of Denver have already seen ice and snow. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and sidewalks are slipperier. Puddles during the day turn into ice rinks at night. Hopefully, you will manage to stay upright all winter, but if you do slip and fall, be on the look-out for these five common injuries:
- Injuries to the back and neck. Many different things can happen in a fall to cause a back or neck injury. You can slip a disc or even fracture a bone. Depending on how you fall, you may also suffer whiplash to your neck and head. About 25 percent of all spinal cord injuries are due to falls. You may not realize the extent of your injuries right away, but gradually become stiff and sore.
- Head injuries (concussions). Head injuries are common with slip and falls, and they can be very serious, especially if you fall backward. Over 35 percent of traumatic brain injuries result from falls. If you hit your head, or even jolt your neck severely, you should have a doctor check for a brain injury. You may not feel the symptoms until later, so have it checked even if you feel fine.
- Knee injuries. Our knees do a lot of work and carry most of our weight. If you fall, you may find your knee twisting the wrong way. This can cause dislocation, in addition to cartilage or ligament damage. You may also fall on your knees, causing bruises or other damage. Knee injuries can be painful and worsen with time because we use our knees so much.
- Sprains and fractures. Broken hips are very common with falls, no matter your age. They can be very difficult for people over 65 to recover from, however. You may also sprain or break a wrist trying to catch yourself as you fall. Broken or sprained foot and ankle injuries can also happen when you lose your footing.
- Shoulder injuries. If you fall on your shoulder, you are likely to feel it later. In addition, if you try to catch yourself when falling forward, you may damage your rotator cuff—the ball and socket joint of your upper arm and shoulder. You might dislocate it, or sprain or tear the ligaments around it.
If you fall on someone else’s property, you should report the incident to the owner right away. Take pictures of the conditions if you are able to do so. If you are injured, seek medical attention right away. As noted above, you may not realize the extent of your injuries immediately. At least now you will know what to look for.