Winter Injuries – Hip Fractures

Slipping on wet leaves or ice, tripping on fallen branches or falling whilst skiing are common mechanisms of injury in the winter months. Injuries of these nature can result in surgery, the application of plastercasts and a long period of rehabilitation stopping us from being independant or doing what we love. In some cases this can also result in extended hospital stays and in the elderly this can have severe lifestyle implications.

The Team at Complete Physiotherapy wanted to share some of the injuries we’ve encountered with patient’s during the winter months but most importantly how we can try to prevent them.

The Hip

Hip fractures can affect all ages and can often result in hip replacement if the fracture is severe. The fracture site is the deciding factor when replacement is being considered as well as the age of the patient.

Those unlucky patients who suffer a hip fracture often find it very difficult or impossible to weight bear on the affected side or walk. They may have a leg that is a different length than the other due to the fracture displacing. The pain is felt either on the front of the hip and groin, deep on the buttock or on the outside of the buttocks. Referral to A&E is VITAL as some fractures, depending on the site of the fracture can be related to fermoral artery problems that may have catestrophic effects.

Treatment after surgery will involve basic range of motion exercises for the ankle and knee as well as gait (walking) re-education. The activation of muscles affected by the surgery such as buttocks and thigh muscles will commence to ensure that the control around the new hip joint is adequate. 

Patients are generally on their feet the following day from having had surgery but there are precautions that must be adhered to to avoid the new joint dislocating. The physiotherapy team in the hospital will guide you through these precautions before leaving the hospital. 

Up to 80,000 hip replacements are done every year with replacements lasting in excess of 10 years. 

To find out more about hip surgery click here.

So how can you help youself?

Train your trunk

Exercise programmes that are designed to reduce falls in the older adult have shown to prevent injuries (research).

So let’s get strength training! Working on the lower body and ‘core’ muscles two to three times a week will have strength benefits seen in as little as 6 weeks. Our current government guidelines suggest completing ‘ strength training’ twice per week – this might include yoga, gardening, carrying shopping or weight training.

Choose your footwear wisely…

Sensible footwear that encloses your foot and has a supportive sole is a must when treading on ice and snow – keep your ‘not so sensible shoes’ for inside the office and swap to attempt to make your journey safer.

Clear your paths

This doesn’t only apply to snow or ice but also fallen leaves. Slippery when wet and hard on the back to clear when they are soggy it’s a good idea to keep your paths clear of leaves from early in the autumn.

Have a older neighbour or family member? Why not clear their pathways too to try to prevent them slipping…your postman or woman will be grateful!

Use walking poles 

Staying active through the winter months can be made safer with the use of walking poles. This allows you to distrubute your weight  through the upper body and use your trunk and core muscles to help with balance. 

Walk like a penguin!