Millions of Americans trip and fall each year, resulting in injuries from mild to severe – and even fatalities. These accidents are sudden and often unpredictable, which means that unless you wrap yourself up in bubble wrap, you could be next!
Overall health and age are risk factors for more severe injuries, and proper treatment should never get delayed as that could lead to severe complications and a poor recovery prognosis.
Fall injuries among the elderly are among the leading causes of hospital admissions around the world. Below are six of the most common injuries related to slipping and falling that you must be aware of:
1. Head Injuries
With any head injury, the risk of it being a medical emergency is consistently high – particularly among the frail adult population. Blunt force trauma to the head should warrant a trip to the Emergency Room as the chances of having a concussion are rather high.
Some signs of a serious head injury include slurred speech, loss of consciousness, blurry vision, mental confusion, and vomiting. These symptoms point to a severe medical issue that requires immediate assistance to prevent irreversible trauma.
2. Fractured or Broken Bones
One of the most common injuries resulting from a slip and fall is a fractured or broken bone. It is vital not to ignore any swelling or bone pain after a fall, as those could indicate a more severe injury that requires an x-ray.
If those types of injuries are not properly examined, they can result in the bone not healing correctly, which leads to chronic pain and restricted usage. Minor fractures can often be left to heal by themselves, but most breaks require a cast and even surgery.
Hip fractures are the most common fall injuries reported in older people and often require extensive hospitalization and rehabilitation.
3. Soft Tissues Injuries
Falls are messy. If you have ever seen a person take a tumble, you’ll know first-hand how limbs tend to fly, twist and bend throughout the harrowing ordeal. Extremities get twisted and over-extended beneath the body’s weight.
Plenty of fall injuries, especially among the younger population, will only result in soreness such as bruises or scrapes. Wrist and ankle sprains are commonly reported types of injuries, which heal relatively quickly if you take care of yourself. Fall prevention is key to preventing devastating injuries, particularly for the old and frail population groups.
4. Shoulder Injuries
If the fall is bad enough, the shoulder gets heavily impacted when the arm is over-extended in a failed attempt at regaining balance. The body’s natural response during a fall is to brace for impact, which often leaves the shoulder violently twisted or the victim of the most damage.
Dislocated shoulders and torn rotator cuffs are commonly reported injuries falling a bad fall, and those require urgent medical attention as they lead to severe pain and discomfort.
5. Back Injuries
Overstretching your back can lead to torn ligaments, sprained muscles, or even severe spinal damage that could require extensive surgery to correct. Luckily, back injuries to that extent are not as common and can be avoided easily.
Generally, a fall will cause inflammation, which can lead to painful lower back spasms that make moving difficult or even impossible. If a person falls on their back, that can lead to compression fractures, numbness, and tingling that should be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible.
6. Muscle Strains
At the best of times, a fall will only result in a few scrapes and bruising at first – but you will likely be in a fair amount of pain the next morning. Your body naturally braces itself for impact after a fall, which means your muscles are tensed and preparing for impact.
One of the main jobs of your muscles is to protect your bones and allow you to move with relative ease. If your fall wasn’t bad, then a few anti-inflammatories and some over-the-counter muscle relaxant rubs can work wonders.
More than one out of four older people fall each year – but less than half of those falls are reported to medical professionals. Falling once drastically increases your chances of falling again, and as much as accidents happen – dizziness and instability on your feet can be a symptom of a more serious medical problem.
If you have recently fallen, you should get checked out by a nurse or doctor – preferably sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more damage gets done!