It’s that time of year to be on the look out for slippery ice patches!
When you lose your balance on an icy or slippery surface, your nervous system triggers an automatic reflex response to prevent you from falling. Part of this response involves a protective tensing up of the postural muscles within your spine and trunk.
This sudden increase in muscle tension can damage spinal muscle fibers and in some cases may lead to misalignments of vertebral joints or disc injuries (herniation or bulge). In this way, you can “pull” your lower back even if you manage to keep yourself from falling.
Of course, the trauma, force, and aberrant movement associated with a true fall may be more than enough to cause an acute muscle strain, as well.
Fall or no fall, a muscle strain or spasm can be quite uncomfortable. Signs and symptoms of a lower back muscle strain include tenderness, stiffness, and pain described as either dull, achy, or occasionally sharp with certain movements. Your tolerance to movement, including shoveling and other winter-related activities, may be low and will ultimately depend on the severity of your muscle strain.
How Our Ramsey Pain Management Team Can Help Your Back Heal
Acute injuries like a fall-related lower back strain may go away on their own. Without seeking professional help, you run the risk of leaving issues unresolved, including joint misalignments and scar tissue formation.
When people come to see us for treatment of a spinal muscle strain, our team uses a variety of non-invasive procedures to help control inflammation, facilitate tissue healing, and restore normal spinal mobility. These services include:
We also can run diagnostic imaging to rule out fractures, disc injuries, and other problems.
Once the acute stage of an injury has passed, our doctors and physical therapists can help you regain necessary strength and stamina within your postural muscles and reduce your risk of recurring symptoms.
Helpful Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Slipping on Ice This Winter
When it comes to accident-related injuries, the only thing better than treatment is prevention. The following tips can help you stay safe no matter how frightful the weather is outside:
- Always wear sturdy boots when walking outdoors.
- Shovel your driveway, sidewalks, and outdoor access ways around your home, and be sure to use sand, salt, or other forms of de-icer.
- Avoid walking over ice whenever possible, and always hold a railing when negotiating outdoor stairs.
- If you can’t avoid walking on ice, take short and slow steps instead, and consider holding your arms out in a T (as if walking on a balance beam).
- If you do fall, see if you can fall more “safely” by tucking your chin into your chest, landing on your buttocks, and keeping your arms close to your side (wrists get broken so frequently during slips and trips there’s actually an acronym for the specific mechanism of injury: FOOSH, or fall on an outstretched hand).
Are you prepared to keep your back healthy this winter season? Call our Ramsey pain management team today at (201) 962-9199 to schedule a consultation or to learn more about the services we offer.