Healthbeat 4: Avoiding slips and falls during winter months

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DAKOTA DUNES, South Dakota (KTIV) —  As the temperature begins to drop and the snow falls, the risk of winter-related injuries begins to go up.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one in four adults fall each year.

With more than 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day.

However, less than half tell their doctor about falling.

“I always like to say winter time is part of the trifecta that keeps us in business: winter, trampolines and sports,” said Dr. Michael Nguyen, CNOS Primary Care Sports Medicine.

Dr. Nguyen is a primary care sports medicine physician at CNOS.

He says they see a spike in fall-related injuries during the winter months — specifically injuries to the wrist and ankles.

“Mainly because you’re either tripping or twisting an ankle and when you’re falling you’ll try to post out with your hand and that can also cause injuries more commonly sprain and strains but less commonly but more severe would be fractures,” said Dr. Michael Nguyen.

So what do you do if you do fall on snow or ice and get hurt?

Dr. Nguyen says most injuries can be cared for at home by following the mnemonic RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

“The most common things I tell patients when they get injured is if there’s immediate swelling or bruising, that’s a sign that something has been fractured or torn and they should get evaluated to limit further injury or potentially to correct an underlining structural issue; ie. a fracture of sorts.”

And the best thing to avoid injury, be prepared.

“So if you know that there’s going to be bad weather incoming to make sure that you’re properly dressed, ” said Dr. Nguyen, “Make sure you have winter boots that have non-slick soles.”

Dr. Nguyen says something patients can do to prevent falls from being something more serious than just a sprain or strain is keeping up on their bone health.

Dr. Nguyen suggests managing Osteoporosis conditions at your annual check-up.

He says at CNOS they’ve found that patients who have the conversation about bone health are less likely to have a more serious injury.

Michelle Schoening

Michelle Schoening

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