Every winter, orthopedic surgeons see countless patients who have been injured by shoveling snow. Some of the most common injuries caused by snow shoveling include back strain, bone fractures, and herniated discs. You can prevent a visit to an orthopedic specialist this winter by using the proper techniques for snow shoveling. Or, consider hiring someone to take care of the snow for you. Orthopedic doctors emphasize how important it is for an individual with a pre-existing medical condition to consult a doctor before shoveling snow.
Back pain is the most common orthopedic condition caused by shoveling snow , particularly when the snowfall is very wet and heavy. A muscle strain in the back occurs when some or all of the fibers in the muscle are torn due to excessive pressure. For example, if you inappropriately twist your back when throwing snow or try to lift too much snow at once, you may notice back pain. In addition to pain, a muscle strain can cause weakness, swelling, and bruising. If you experience significant pain or your symptoms do not diminish after 24 hours of rest, it’s a good idea to consult an orthopedic doctor.
Bone fractures are not often thought of as an injury associated with snow shoveling. In fact, they’re quite common, particularly for individuals digging out after a snow storm accompanied by sleet. The icy terrain makes it easy to slip and fall, potentially causing bone fractures. While shoveling, be mindful of where you place your feet. Wear snow boots with deep treads and slip-on ice cleats. Remember to scatter rock salt liberally over your driveway and walkways.
If you have degenerative disc disease, you’re at a greater risk of suffering a herniated disc while shoveling snow. A herniated disc occurs when the insides of an intervertebral disc push through to the exterior. If this material presses on a nearby nerve, you are likely to experience pain that may radiate down your leg.
If you sustain an injury this winter, you can take advantage of the exceptional patient care at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine . We offer convenient evening hours and free parking. For more information, NYC residents can call our orthopedic practice in Forest Hills at (347) 537-2404.