Winter brings many positives such as the holidays, family gatherings, and winter sports, just to name a few. However, winter also brings snow, ice, and cold weather. Slick stairs, sidewalks, and parking lots create the perfect condition for slip and fall injuries.

Falls are the number one reason for visits to an emergency room or one of the 7,357 urgent care clinics in the United States. Here are four examples of slip and fall injuries:

Head Injuries

A bump on the head can be quite serious if the impact causes a concussion. Simply put, concussions occur when a fall causes the brain to bump against the inside of your skull. Falls can also cause swelling or bleeding in the brain. Brain injuries are often accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils, particularly if one pupil is more dilated than the other
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Headache
  • Loss of balance
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech

For minor symptoms, a visit to an urgent care clinic for examination by a doctor may rule out a more serious problem, such as bleeding or swelling in the brain. For serious symptoms, such as loss of consciousness for longer than 30 seconds, you may need to visit an emergency room or your primary care doctor.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries can range from minor sprains and strains to torn ligaments and muscles. Signs of a soft tissue injury to muscles and tendons include pain, weakness in a joint or muscle, swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion.

Many soft tissue injuries heal on their own with rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. However, if your injury does not seem to be healing on its own, you experience pain lasting longer than a few weeks, or the bruising and weakness in the tissue does not subside, you may need to visit an urgent care clinic. There, doctors can determine if you have suffered a more serious injury, that may require surgery or therapy to heal.

Bruises and Cuts

Cuts and bruises happen with most falls and these often heal on their own. However, severe cuts that are deep enough to see the underlying tissue or long enough that they will not stay closed on their own may require stitches at an urgent care clinic.

Similarly, bruises that do not begin to heal after a few days or are unusually large, accompanied by severe swelling and pain, may be a sign of something more serious, such as a torn muscle or broken bone. If you experience these symptoms, you may want to visit an urgent care clinic for examination by a medical professional.

Back Injuries

Back injuries can result from impacting the ground during a fall or twisting to try to catch yourself while falling. While painful, a back strain can heal on its own with rest, cold packs, and anti-inflammatory medication. Physical activities, such as sports or manual labor, can prolong the injury. Most urgent care clinics will recommend avoiding physical strains, like lifting heavy objects or participating in sports.

More serious back injuries can result from slip and fall accidents if the intervertebral discs are damaged. Disc damage can occur if the disc bulges, ruptures, or herniates as a result of physical strain. These injuries can cause severe nerve pain when they impinge on the spinal cord. For example, a damaged disc in your lower back can cause pain in the buttocks, legs, and feet if it compresses nerves leading to those regions.

If your fall has resulted in pain that begins in your back but radiates to other parts of your body, your discs may have been damaged. Similarly, if you experience nerve pain, muscle weakness or spasm, or loss of muscle control after a back injury, you may want to seek attention at an urgent care clinic.

Slip and fall injuries can range from minor bumps and bruises that will heal on their own to serious concussions that can be life-threatening. If your injury is not healing after a few days or is accompanied by pain or discomfort that interferes with your daily activities, an urgent care clinic can determine if there are more serious issues.

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