“Dear Santa. This year please give me a big fat bank account and a slim body. Please don’t mix those two up like you did last year. Thanks.” – Anonymous
The holidays can be a joyous and heart-warming time for most people, and they can be a time of elevated stress, as well.
We worry about money. We worry about our families. And some of us worry about our weight. And, not to add to the stress, there’s also the increased likelihood of getting hurt.
The months from October through January typically see an increase in many types of injuries that result from accidents that can be weather-related, alcohol-related, stress-related, or simply from engaging in tasks and activities that only occur during this time of year.
Common Causes of Holiday Injuries to Be Aware of and Avoid
There are dozens of reasons why people injure themselves or get hurt during the holidays. However, there are a handful that are more common than most.
During the last three months of the year, weather, fatigue, and often alcohol lead to an increase in car accidents. In addition to the roads being subject to adverse conditions because of rain, snow, and ice, highway visibility is often poor due to shorter daylight hours.
Add to these issues the increase of pedestrians out shopping for holiday food and gifts, and families traveling long distances for winter holidays, the factors for accidents add up.
Consequently, October, November, and December represent forty percent of the pedestrian accidents for the entire year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For example, a recent Thanksgiving weekend accounted for 35 vehicle wrongful deaths and more than 2,300 vehicle injuries. Of those, 15 deaths and 425 injuries were alcohol-related.
While this might appear humorous, holiday decorations and lights can be far more dangerous than you may think. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that these are responsible for more than 12,000 emergency room visits each year due to falls, cuts, and electrical shocks.
And, according to one source, “Wrapping Rage” can lead to very real injuries.
“This is a real thing, and it affects everyone. We’ve all received gifts that are simply impossible to open without an axe, blow torch, or divine miracle. But what results in annoyance for most, leads to minor (and even serious) injuries for others.
In 2008, a British study found that difficult packaging put 60,000 people in emergency rooms each year due to cuts, sprains, bruises, and muscle extensions. A 2004 report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 6,500 Americans go to the hospital each year trying to open gifts.”
Another common set of injuries, back injuries result from several causes.
According to one website, whether it’s lifting a present that’s too heavy or trying to plow too much snow, millions of Americans experience back injuries as a result of the holidays every year. And regardless of whether you’re hefting boxes, shopping bags, holiday trees, or suitcases, the winter months bring tons of opportunities for lifting-related injuries.
In particular, this type of injury most often shows up as lower back pain.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 15,000 injuries, or 240 a day during November and December, are related to holiday decorating. And the body part that endures most of all that reaching, twisting, and hauling is the lower back.
Falling from Ladders
Whether it’s simply stringing Christmas lights along the roof, hanging large indoor decorations, or topping the Christmas tree, working on a ladder is probably more common in the winter months. And when ladders come out in most homes it also raises the risk of falls, which can lead to a wide variety of injuries.
The holidays also lend themselves to many “once a year” types of physical or athletic activities such as touch football or skiing and snowboarding. Unfortunately, these activities can often lead to hard or traumatic falls and result in torn ACLs.
Michael Richardson, MD, of One Medical in Boston, was quoted in an article as saying,
“For some families, playing football is just as much a tradition as turkey and cranberry sauce in the shape of a can. With sports come sports injuries, so be sure to stretch and play responsibly. A common injury I see are sprained ankles.”
No matter our age or our level of health or fitness, holiday-related accidents and injuries can leave us in pain. And, often, these can also result in long-term, recurring or chronic pain that can linger long into the New Year.
The good news is that Pain and Performance Solutions can work with you to not only identify and treat the source of your pain, but to bring you to a virtually pain-free condition.
Your Holiday Source for Injury and Chronic Pain Solutions
No one likes pain and no one wants to endure the holidays while in pain. And that’s where Pain and Performance Solutions comes in.
By understanding how your body moves through your pain and the compensation patterns and subsequent movement dysfunction, we can determine the best strategy for your recovery.
Pain and Performance Solutions would love to schedule a consultation with you so we can learn more about your pain and explain how our approach can help us diagnose the real cause of your pain.
As with any diagnosis of an injury or chronic pain, the first step is getting to know you. We can’t determine how to diagnose your chronic pain without understanding your history and what you’ve been through and where you are now.