Winter Back Safety
Avoid injuries this holiday season by following these safety tips.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) , during the 2000, 2001 and 2002 holiday seasons, about 5,800 people spent some portion of their holiday in hospital emergency departments as a result of fall-related injuries sustained while decorating.
To help keep "Ho! Ho! Ho!" from turning into "Oh, no!", Dr. Charles Rosen, Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at University of California at Irvine Medical Center offers these tips.
Choose the right ladder for the job — step stools and utility ladders work for smaller indoor jobs and extension ladders for putting up outdoor holiday lights.
Place ladders on level ground, especially when working outside.
Don't climb ladders with your hands full. Have someone hold the ladder for you and hand you the decorations or tools as needed.
Never stand on the top of a ladder or the step directly below the top of a ladder. And don't overreach—keep your hips inside the side rails of the ladder.
Distribute the weight you are carrying evenly between both sides to keep from being off-balanced or twisted.
Make multiple trips instead of loading yourself down with all the boxes, etc. at once.
When traveling by air, use curbside check-in or transport your checked baggage to the check-in area using a luggage cart.
Consider shipping your gifts ahead to cut down on what you have to carry.
When shoveling snow, use either a small shovel or lighter loads on a larger one.
Make sure you are properly positioned before lifting and dumping.
If you're skiing, stretch for 20 minutes before leaving for the slopes.
Sit down when putting on your boots and buckling them.
Remember that skiing on hard pack snow or "crud" or skiing over moguls can jar your back.
Feeling an ache or pain? According to Dr. Rosen, it's probably not a muscle strain but a tear of the outer covering (annulus) of the disc that has a lot of nerve fibers in it. This causes referral of pain to the paraspinal muscles.
The healing process will take two to seven days. In the meantime, he suggests patients take an anti-inflammatory instead of acetaminophen which will not counteract the inflammatory chemicals that the annular tear releases.
"Decrease your physical activity or what you can tolerate, and stay comfortable," he adds.
WHN Tip: Always check with your doctor before taking any medication, even OTC ones.
As for physical therapy, it's for rehabilitation after healing and to prevent future injury. Hold off during the acute healing phase to avoid more damage.
By following these tips, you'll keep the pain from your back and the "merry" in your holiday this season!
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