Winter injuries affect thousands of people every year—slips and falls, as well as high-intensity winter sports, may result in bone fractures, ligament tears, and joint dislocations. For this article, Dr Arnoldas Sipavičius, an orthopaedic surgeon at Nordorthopaedics Clinic, offers advice on how to treat winter injuries at home and when to seek professional help.
Over 100K people suffer injuries in winter due to hazardous pavement conditions—more than 70K people in the US need medical assistance after unfortunate falls. Improper footwear, failure to assess the surface and weather conditions, and one’s physical fitness contribute to an increased risk of traumas.
Dr Arnoldas Sipavičius (right) says, “People who have deteriorated coordination, muscle balance, impaired mobility, mainly older people, are generally at a higher risk of injuring themselves in winter. While younger, physically fit, and active people are more likely to sustain traumas during winter sports.”
The surgeon advises on the most common ways people injure themselves in the cold season.
Icy pavements—risk for bone fractures
Slips on slippery, icy, or snowy pavement constitute a significant cause of orthopaedic injuries in winter. Every winter, millions of people need medical attention after falls that often generate ankle, wrist, and hip fractures.
“Slipping on surfaces might cause different types of injuries. If a person slips, they might injure their lower extremities—ankles, knee ligaments, sustain ligament sprains or tears, and ankle and calf fractures. If they fall, most likely the injuries will be wrist, elbow, shoulder contusions, ligament traumas, distal radius, distal humerus, ulnar head or radial head fractures,” the surgeon commented.
Hazards of snow shovelling and winter sports
A lot of injuries result from shovelling snow at home, with eleven thousand people reporting having sustained a back injury this way each year. According to Dr Sipavičius, the injury, which is often a back strain or issues with the spinal disc, can occur because people do not hold the shovel the right way.
Although fresh snow is hard to resist, prompting people to take part in skiing, snowboarding, sledging, or ice skating, a common result of this is bone fractures, strains, dislocations, and sprains. In fact, up to 70% of snowboarders are likely to sustain an injury.
When to seek medical attention
According to Dr Sipavičius, the biggest mistake a person can make is to delay seeking professional help if they experience severe pain or subcutaneous haemorrhaging, can see a visible deformation, and the condition worsens.
“Undiagnosed fractures, ligament injuries, and delayed treatment will cause prolonged discomfort, limit daily activities, increase the risk of complications, delay recovery, and may deteriorate the overall post-treatment result,” the surgeon added.
In terms of treating injuries at home, the surgeon says that if there is no severe pain and no visible deformations, the joint can bear the load; a person may take care of the injury themselves, using the PRICE protocol: P-protect, R-rest, I-ice, C-compression, E-elevation.
However, if the person has any concerns about it, they should immediately contact a medical specialist, have tests to assess ligaments and bones and get potential surgical treatment or rehabilitation.
Nordorthopaedics is a private clinic in Kaunas, Lithuania, part of Nordclinic, offering high-quality services and focusing on foreign patients. It is equipped with modern diagnostic and surgical facilities. Medical professionals at the clinic speak fluent English and show personal attention to every patient. More information can be found at www.nordorthopaedics.com/en.
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