It’s hard to believe with the recent 70 degree days, but winter will soon be upon us. Winter in Oklahoma means freezing rain, sleet, and snow, all of which can accumulate and create slippery sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. When surfaces get icy, the number of slips and falls increase and so does the risk of a fracture.
If you fall and injure your shoulder or elbow this winter, seek medical attention. Some injuries may require immediate attention at the emergency room or urgent care, especially if you are in severe pain or if you hit your head when you fell. If your injury is not an emergency, call the Oklahoma Shoulder Center for a quick appointment where we can take x-rays, evaluate your injury, and discuss with you the best course of treatment.
Some injuries may heal on their own, but you can contact us for an appointment if you notice any lingering pain or limited function of your shoulder or elbow that does not resolve on its own.
Shoulder fractures are the third most common fracture after hips and wrists. While it is possible to fall directly on the shoulder and injure it, most shoulder fractures happen when someone tries to break a fall with their hands or arms and the full force of the fall transfers to the shoulder. Elderly individuals, post-menopausal women, and people with low bone density are most at risk for fractures after falling. Low bone density can be hereditary or can be a result of kidney disease, vitamin D deficiency, rickets, or other medical conditions. If you’ve previously had a hip, wrist, or shoulder fracture and haven’t had your bone density evaluated, it might be worth a visit with your primary care physician or an endocrinologist, who can determine whether you might need a bone density study done with low-energy xray, called a DEXA scan. More than 54 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Bone density begins to decline after age 35, especially for women, and you can’t rebuild bone density after it has been lost. You can help slow the rate of decline by maintaining a healthy diet with plenty of vitamin D and calcium. Regular weight-bearing exercise, including walking or lifting light weights, also helps maintain bone density.
For those at increased risk of fractures, fall prevention is critical. Check out the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon’s resource page on holiday safety to see what steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling at home.
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Also visit the American Orthopaedic Association’s Own the Bone program website to learn more about bone health.
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By Oklahoma Shoulder Center PLLC
November 27, 2019