The risk of slipping and falling is at peak level, and injuries resulting from falls on ice are prevalent. From fractures to sprains, TRIA physicians are no strangers to ice-related injuries. Sports medicine physician Heather Thoerner answers a few questions about walking on the ice.

What are the most common slip and fall injuries?

Slip and falls in the winter often result in injuries to the wrist, ankle, and shoulder. Low back injuries often occur from a backward fall as well.

We can treat some injuries with ice and compression, while others may need surgery or casting. When a fall happens, it is often wise to stop and treat the injured area with ice. For the first 24 hours after a fall, ice the injured area for 15 minutes at a time, several times throughout the day. This can help to decrease bruising and swelling.

When should I see a doctor?

It isn’t always obvious whether a significant injury has occurred. Severe pain is the most obvious indicator. If the pain does not go away after a 24-hour period of rest and ice, have a doctor look at the injury. Swelling is also an indicator of a possible break, but you may not always see swelling.

A broken bone can be more obvious and may result in a change in the shape of the extremity or severe pain. Other times a break can be more subtle, especially with children. Children’s bones are more malleable than adults, so swelling may not be as obvious.

What can I do to prevent a slip and fall injury?

If you could react in time, the most important part of the body to protect in a fall is your head. Many people will automatically put their hands out to protect their head as they fall. This reaction is good because it keeps their head safe. But unfortunately, landing on an outstretched hand can cause a sprained or broken wrist. So if possible, it is best to “tuck and roll.” This allows the force from the fall to be more distributed through the body. It is hard to plan this type of reaction because falls usually happen before a person has time to think about it.

Shoes with extra traction or grip, like Yaktrax can help prevent falls on the ice. If your path looks icy, take small shuffling steps to keep your weight underneath you. If possible, try to walk in the grass or on a snowy patch to avoid the ice. Look at the ground in front of you at night, especially in parking lots with curbs and uneven surfaces.

Ice Got You Down? Come to the TRIA Orthopedic Urgent Care!

Our orthopedic urgent care clinics in Bloomington, Maple Grove and Woodbury are open seven days a week. We provide walk-in care for athletes and individuals of all ages and abilities. No appointment needed! Our physicians, physical therapists and athletic trainers are here to help you get back to the activities you love.