woman shoveling snow

4 Common Causes of Winter Injuries

Categories: General Orthopedics

Winter is coming, and soon enough, it will be here. While you should stay vigilant against the flu, common cold, and other winter ailments, you should also be conscious of bodily injuries. Slippery walking and driving conditions can create unforeseen dangerous situations. And unfortunately, your body is particularly vulnerable to injuries during the winter. As Long Island Orthopedists, we see a definite spike in patients seeking treatment for certain injuries. But, fear not — there are a few steps that you can take to mitigate or prevent these injuries.

1. Slipping on Ice and Snow

Although it is obvious, slipping and falling is also one of the most likely winter injuries.

Walking during the winter is tricky. People make a concerted effort to avoid thick sheets of ice, but instead step on the thin sheets of ice that resemble water. People also frequently step on or off the curb into a patch of ice. This is especially common for elderly people, who already have difficulty walking.

Because elderly people are predisposed to falling during the winter, slipping and falling frequently leads to hip injuries. When slipping contorts the leg in an unnatural position, it can also cause severe ankle injuries. As a natural reaction to slipping, many people try to brace their fall with an outstretched hand, causing wrist fractures or hand injuries. Worst of all, slipping may result in a head injury, requiring severe stitching and a lengthy recovery. A Long Island orthopedist can offer therapeutic or surgical treatment to relieve pain.

Stay alert when walking during the winter, especially at night, when ice may appear to be regular pavement.

2. Shoveling Snow

The appeal of a snow day transcends generations. But, so does the dread for shoveling snow.

This is for good reason. Due to the overwhelming stress, shoveling snow can cause you to pull muscles in the back and shoulders, especially when overexerting yourself to cover a large area. As with other repetitive motions, the actions of digging, lifting and throwing snow are a recipe for back pain. As any orthopedist would tell you, the freezing temperatures make this process and the potential for injury even worse.

To lower back pain, you should adopt the proper shoveling posture and technique. Always keep your knees bent, so that the stress is placed on your legs, not the back. Place one hand close to the blade, and the other further up the handle, so that you prevent upper back and neck pain. Always turn your whole body when moving the snow, rather than twisting. Finally, shovel smaller, more manageable loads at a time to limit stress. While it may take a longer time, your body will thank you in the long run.

3. Winter Sports

Whether you are on a skiing trip with friends or hitting the local slopes with family, winter sports are always a blast. Ice hockey, sledding, and ice skating are all great impromptu activities. For a Long Island orthopedist, though, winter sports bring on a huge influx of injuries.

The same injury prevention principles as slipping and falling apply to winter sports. Navigating around snowy and slippery areas makes your back, wrists, ankles, and other body parts vulnerable to injuries. Moving at higher speeds also puts you at greater risk to have a high impact crash with a tree, rock, another person, or another dangerous object.

Whether they are recreational or organized, be sure to use protective gear whenever participating in winter sports.

4. Car Accidents

There’s a reason that meteorologists and politicians recommend staying indoors during and after winter storms. The driving conditions following winter storms can be disastrous. Even though winter driving conditions may only be an issue 5-10 times per year, it’s imperative to adjust your speed and be more attentive than ever.

While four-wheel drive is ideal for navigating wintry roads, that doesn’t mean that these vehicles are impervious. They can still easily lose traction in the ice. Additionally, increasing the distance between yourself and the car in front of you will give you more time to react in the event of a skid. When you know you are approaching a turn, or are nearing a stoplight, start braking much earlier than usual. Many modern cars have an ABS (anti-lock brake) system that activates when drivers brake, preventing traction loss.

But, these precautions are only so effective. Even when exercising the highest degree of caution, some drivers still find themselves in accidents. So, even days after storms, stay alert of road conditions.

Auto accidents in the winter can result in many injuries, including head, arm, leg, back, and other body parts. A Long Island orthopedist can help you to overcome pain from these injuries, but prevention is the best treatment.


Long Island Orthopedist: Stay Alert During the Winter

While everyone should enjoy the pleasures of winter, it’s important to be careful while doing so. A Long Island orthopedist can help you to overcome the tension and stiff bones that winter often brings. For more information about how to keep your body safe during the winter, contact us.