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Tis the season to be cautious: Orthopedic Injuries Rise During the Holidays

November 22, 2010
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The holidays are a time of joyous family gatherings, festive decorations and elaborate dinners. But it’s important to be extra careful while enjoying the most wonderful time of the year. While there is an increase in holiday cheer, there is also a sharp rise in injuries during the holiday season.

“While the holidays are an exciting time, they are also a peak time for orthopedic-related injuries,” says Craig Bennett, MD of The Center for Bone and Joint Disease in Hudson, Fla. “People often get caught up in the hectic nature of the season and focus less on safety while engaging in holiday-related activities.”

While holiday celebrations would not be complete without twinkling lights and tinsel-covered trees, some of the most common injuries are broken bones from falling while hanging these holiday decorations. According to the Centers for Disease Control, research estimates that 5,800 people per year visit the emergency room due to decorating-related falls. Most of these falls occur while hanging lights on the house or attempting to put decorations on the Christmas tree.

Other injuries are a little more unusual. Dropped frozen turkeys have caused crushed toes. Overzealous shoppers, especially on Black Friday, cause broken bones due to crowd rushes and even careless control of shopping carts. And slips and falls related to snow and ice cause injuries ranging from sprained ankles to head trauma.

Orthopedic injuries are not the only kind sending people to the emergency room. Fire-related injuries also top the list. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires occurring during the holiday season injur approximately 1,650 people per year. Tree lights, space heaters, fireplaces and candles must all be used with care.

Staying Safe This Season

Injuries, however, do not have to take the joy out of your holidays.

“With the proper precautions, people can have a safe, happy holiday season,” says Bennett, who offers some suggestions in order to keep you and your family safe.

“Always use a sturdy ladder while hanging lights and decorating trees,” Bennett says. “The arms of sofas may be more accessible, but they are also less safe.” He also advises people to make sure the ladder is set on a flat, even surface, and not to use the top two rungs of the ladder or attempt to stretch beyond reach. To prevent falls on icy surfaces, Bennett recommends wearing shoes appropriate for winter weather. Wearing footwear with rubber soles creates better traction and is one of the easiest ways to prevent slipping.

“Most importantly,” Bennett says, “take a moment to breathe and enjoy the holiday season. The less rushed you are, the more you will focus on safety. A safe holiday season is a joyful one.”

About The Center for Bone and Joint Disease:

The Center for Bone and Joint Disease has been serving the Tampa Bay community for over 30 years. Dr. Norman Higgins opened the practice in 1973 and is still in surgical practice. There are currently six orthopedic surgeons, a physiatrist and four physician assistants treating thousands of patients in three office locations. The Center for Bone and Joint Disease’s physicians are all Board-Certified/Eligible in Orthopedics and have received specialized fellowship training in areas such as hand and spinal injuries. Visit www.centerforboneandjoint.com or call 727.697.2200 to learn more.

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