Expert Care by ER Physicians

Most Common Winter Injuries in Minnesota

Posted by The Urgency Room on Monday, January 29, 2018
Updated on: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Keywords: sprains strains broken bones auto accidents

Cold weather and snow are not the only things that arrive when fall fades into winter. The change in season also brings a number of injuries that are unique to winter. If you’ve experienced an injury while performing a wintertime activity, you’re not alone. Personal injuries during winter commonly occur while performing otherwise simple activities. From your back, shoulders and neck, to joints and knees, you’re more susceptible to pain and injury during winter.

However, through education and precaution, you can prevent winter injuries.

This post will highlight some of the more common winter injuries that we treat here at the Urgency Room, as well as provide you with some tips for preventing injury.

Ice and Snow Injuries

The ice and snow that winter treats us to can cause a variety of injuries that would be otherwise avoided in dry weather conditions. Ice and snow cause injuries due to their slippery nature of ice and the frozen ground is far less forgiving upon impact.

Ice is a big contributor to winter injuries. Steps, sidewalks, and driveways can all have ice on them that is difficult to see. Maintaining your balance is tricky when you know you’re on ice. If you don’t suspect a patch of ice, and then step on it, recovering your balance before falling can be very challenging.

The types of injuries that occur due to falling on the ice and snow include:

The best way to avoid snow and ice related injuries is to take extra precaution as you navigate the frigid outdoors. Make sure that snow and ice are cleared away from the sidewalks, steps, and driveway of your residence. Dropping salt on cement steps is an effective additional measure to melt ice on the steps and give traction to those walking on them.

Back Injuries Caused By Shoveling

One of the least appealing winter tasks is shoveling the driveway and sidewalk. Especially when there’s a lot of snowfall, shoveling can require significant physical exertion. The repetitive actions of twisting and lifting while shoveling can cause severe strain on the back. All it takes is one muscle to be pulled the wrong way for your back, neck or shoulders to seize up.

The most common injuries suffered during shoveling are soft tissue injuries, typically in the lower back muscles. To avoid injury, don’t overdo it when shoveling. Know the physical limits of your body, and assess the physical toll required to clear away the snow before you begin. If you’re limited physically or suffer from chronic back pain, consider a snow blower to make the process easier on your back. Or, try and find a neighbor to help.

Winter Sports Injuries

For winter sports athletes, the cold and snow-ridden season many people dread is the most enjoyable season of the year. Winter sports include skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, hockey, snowmobiling, and others. Each sport brings with it the potential for injuries.

All of the risk factors that are involved walking on the snow and ice are increased with the speeds that athletes reach enjoying their winter sports. Like all-season sports played in warmer months, the physical exertion required renders athletes more vulnerable to injury. Some of the injuries that can be suffered in winter sports include:

  • Head Injuries: Always wear a helmet for the activities that call for it.
  • Broken Bones, Dislocations, Sprains, and Strains: Collisions and falls can lead to a number of injuries.
  • Knee Injuries: Winter sports that require sharp, sudden movements leave athletes vulnerable to knee injuries.
  • Pulled Muscles: Physical exertion of any kind, during the winter or otherwise, increase the likelihood of pulling or straining a muscle.

It’s always recommended to take safety precautions when enjoying winter sports. Wear all of the protective gear that your sport requires , and pay close attention to changing weather. You don’t want to get unexpectedly stuck in a blizzard while enjoying a winter sport.  

Car Accidents

Life doesn’t stop when the snow comes. We still have to go to work and kids still have to go to school. Snow and ice make for nasty driving conditions. Due to the conditions, there’s an uptick in traffic accidents during winter as it’s far more difficult for a car to get traction on the road and to come to a sudden stop.

Injuries suffered during a winter car accident are similar to those suffered during the non-winter car accidents. Depending on the severity of the collision, a car crash can leave a person with anything from minor scrapes and bruises to life-threatening injuries.

During the winter, and especially when the roads are bad, it’s important to take more time and drive at speeds appropriate for the conditions. The extra five or ten minutes you spend in the car taking it slow are well worth it in contrast to the impactful and damaging injuries that you can suffer if you get into an accident.

Treat Winter Injuries at the Urgency Room

Whether you slip and fall on the ice, or suffer an injury during a winter sport, the Urgency Room can treat any and all of your winter injuries. We have three  convenient locations in Woodbury, Vadnais Heights and Eagan. By seeking treatment at the Urgency Room, you spare yourself from sitting in the waiting room for long while your winter injury gets worse. Wait times at the Urgency Room are usually under 15 minutes and you can check out live waiting room times at each location here. By checking the wait time before you arrive, you’ll avoid an unexpected lengthy visit, such as is often the case when you seek treatment at the UR.

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