Unfortunately for us, living in the UK means the wintery conditions seem to last forever! As the temperatures continue to drop, the injuries from slips and trips tends to rise. The most common of injuries following a fall include:
- Ankle sprains
A ligament is a band of tissue which attaches bone to bone. The ankle has ligaments on the inner and outer aspect of the joint to help provide it with extra support. When you lose your footing, the ankle has a tendency to roll inwards causing the ligaments on the outer aspect of the ankle to overstretch and tear. Typical symptoms of this injury include pain, swelling, instability and can make it difficult to weightbear depending on the severity of the injury. If you have tenderness over the bones around the ankle and are struggling to weightbear for more than 4 steps, get it checked out at your local A&E to rule out the risk of a fracture.
Physiotherapists’ regularly treat ankle sprains and treatment usually includes providing the client with a structured exercise programme, ultrasound, deep tissue friction massage and soft tissue release.
Fractures are common following a fall particularly in the aging population. Older people are more susceptible to falling due to balance problems, muscle weakness and/or poor vision. Bone density also decreases as we age increasing the risk of getting a fracture further. Symptoms of a fracture include; pain in the injured area, bruising and swelling over a bone, deformity of the arm or leg, loss of function in the injured area or occasionally the bone can protrude from the skin. If a fracture is suspected, visit your local A&E for an x-ray.
Recovery of a broken bone requires a period of immobilisation to allow the ends of each bone to unite. Following immobilisation the joints that surround the fracture often become stiff and the muscles waste secondary to disuse. This is when a period of physiotherapy and rehabilitation becomes extremely important. Manual therapy (whereby the therapist mobilises the joint) can help to increase range of motion. Exercises are then often prescribed to loosen the joints further and to strengthen wasted muscles.
- Back pain
Back pain is also a common symptom following a fall, usually secondary to direct trauma to the joints and soft tissues of the spine. It can be very difficult accurately diagnosing the cause of lower back pain; therefore many therapists often diagnose spinal pain as non-specific lower back pain. However, following a thorough subjective and objective assessment, the therapist should be able to identify the possible structures at fault; whether it is muscular, discogenic or if the pain is originating from a particular joint.
Treatment is guided by how the client presents but may include a combination of; spinal mobilisation, soft tissue release, acupuncture, traction and electrotherapy.
If you have suffered a trip or fall and would like to speak to somebody, call us on 01282 453 110.
Alternatively, you can use our FREE ‘Ask A Physio’ service online where you can contact our team or professional therapists for advice. This will save you a trip to your local GP.