Although serious symptoms resulting from a fall don't always present immediately, soreness or pain are common side effects that usually occur even with a minor fall. Since a backward fall can injure your spine, hips, or pelvis, leading to further damage later on, it's important to understand the impact that slipping and falling on ice or snow can have on your body. If symptoms you experience following a fall fail to improve or get worse, you may need to see an orthopaedic doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Symptoms Following a Fall
Muscles, ligaments, connective tissue, bones, joints, and nerves are all parts of the human anatomy that can be affected by a fall. It makes sense then that injury to the spine is a common cause of lower back pain. Since the spine is a column of small bones that is also composed of these other elements, injury to any of the structures that help support the weight of your upper body can have a negative impact on your spine.
While symptoms caused by minor falls generally resolve on their own with home treatment including rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers within a few days, pain that intensifies or doesn't go away may be a warning sign that something more serious is going on. Even if you seem fine at first and don't experience any immediate or severe pain following a fall, symptoms may come on gradually. Sometimes symptoms come on suddenly later on.
Whether your symptoms are immediate or delayed, chronic symptoms that may occur following a hard fall include:
Muscle spasm and tightness
Spinal disc degeneration
Potential Long-Term Side Effects of Falls
When a fall causes mechanical damage to your body, your level of function—including your movement patterns—can be impaired. Because connected body mechanisms may be involved, it's natural to compensate by walking, sitting, standing, or bending differently than you normally do in an effort to prevent pain and future injury. But as you change the ways in which you move, those changes themselves can eventually lead to chronic pain or further back injury long after the initial fall.
Examination by an Orthopaedic Doctor
You primary care physician may refer you to an orthopaedic doctor at a clinic like Orthopaedic Associates Of Rochester if back pain following the trauma of a fall doesn't go away and/or you experience any of the following symptoms:
Weakness in the legs
Numbness or tingling in a leg or foot, inner thighs, or buttock
Severe pain that wakes you from sleep
Pain in both your abdomen and lower back
Problems with bowel and bladder function
Since it isn't always possible to avoid walking on slippery surfaces, there are measures you can take to help prevent fall-related back injuries by minimizing the risk of slipping and falling on snow and ice such as wearing boots with rubber treads and walking at a slower pace.