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Your Healthy Family: Winter weather brings more injuries from falls

Posted at 10:18 AM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 12:18:44-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — There are a lot of things that multiply when winter weather arrives, including visits to urgent care clinics or emergency rooms for injuries from falls.

Dr. Elisa Knutsen is an orthopedic surgeon at UCHealth Grandview Hospital in Colorado Springs who specializes in hand and wrist surgery. Dr. Knutsen says wrist fractures are among the most common injuries that need to be treated when driveways and sidewalks get slick.

“With snow storms we definitely see more people falling on ice and snow and sustaining fractures, a broken wrist or contusions to the wrist. Those can be really devastating injuries for people who have to care for kids or use their hands on the job. It also keeps people from doing things they love like playing music or being active in sports.”

In some cases it can be hard to know if you need to be seen by a doctor after a fall. Dr. Knutsen says it’s important to seek care if the injury isn’t getting better.

“If as you do more, it hurts more - for example if people try to get dressed or go to work or drive and the injury hurts really badly. If that's the case, than I would definitely get it checked out.”

Dr. Knutsen says about half of the wrist injuries she sees will need surgery. In those cases, the signs of serious injury are more clear.

“The people I usually see say it’s really obvious and they know it when they fall. There is swelling and if the wrist is deformed or crooked or out of alignment, those are more obvious signs that it's worth getting it looked at. An urgent care or emergency room can put you in a splint, (to ease the pain) and get some X-rays and then refer you to a specialist if need be.”

Finally, Dr. Knutsen says there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and even your neighbors from winter fall injuries.

“Wearing good shoes, try to shovel the walk for your neighbors and looking down when you're walking is important. I think a lot of people get distracted in the snow and ice, especially when it's sunny and the storm's gone -- that is also when people start to fall.”

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