A slip and fall can change your day, your week, and maybe even your life. These injuries, which can happen anywhere and to anyone, are frightening in their suddenness. They can also be quite painful, potentially producing millions of dollars in medical bills and lost wages.
Slip and falls are the most common variety of accidental injuries, aside from auto accidents, that personal injury and workers compensation lawyers litigate. But a slip and fall is only a cause, not a type, of injury. So what are the most common types of slip and falls? They range from minor to severe, and even deadly.
Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury (STI) is the damage of muscles, ligament and tendons throughout the body. Common soft tissue injuries usually occur from a sprain, strain, a one-off blow resulting in a contusion or overuse of a particular part of the body. Soft tussue injuries can result in pain, swelling, bruising and loss of function.
A sprain is a type of acute injury which results from the stretching or tearing of a ligament. Depending on the severity of the sprain, the movement on the joint can be compromised since ligaments aid in the stability and support of joints. Sprains are commonly seen in vulnerable areas such as the wrists, knees and ankles. They can occur from movements such as falling on an outstretched hand or a twisting of the ankle or foot.
The severity of a sprain can be classified:
- Grade 1: Only some of the fibers in the ligament are torn, and the injured site is moderately painful and swollen. Function in the joint will be unaffected for the most part.
- Grade 2: Many of the ligament fibers are torn, and pain and swelling is moderate. The functionality of the joint is compromised.
- Grade 3: The soft tissue is completely torn, and functionality and strength on the joint is completely compromised. In most cases, surgery is needed to repair the damage.
A strain is a type of acute injury that occurs to the muscle or tendon. Similar to sprains, it can vary in severity, from a stretching of the muscle or tendon to a complete tear of the tendon from the muscle. Some of the most common places that strains occur are in the foot, back of the leg (hamstring), or back.
A contusion is the discoloration of the skin, which results from underlying muscle fibers and connective tissue being crushed.This can happen in a variety of ways such as a direct blow to the skin, or a fall taken against a hard surface. The discoloration in the skin is present when blood begins to pool around the injury.
Tendinitis is a type of overuse injury to the tendons, which demonstrates signs of inflammation of tendons around a joint. Tendinitis is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Tendinitis occurs when there is repetitive stress on the subacromial bursa, which causes the bones to make contact with the tendons and irritate them.
Even an apparently minor head injury is a medical emergency. If you fall and hit your head—especially if there is swelling, bleeding, or even a brief loss of consciousness—you need immediate medical care. Minor concussions usually clear up on their own, but more serious traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can permanently alter your ability to function. Head injuries cannot be diagnosed based on symptoms alone, and some very serious head injuries produce only minimal symptoms at first. No matter how inconvenient it is or how “fine” you feel, your first stop after a head injury should be to your doctor. This can also increase your odds of a successful workers compensation lawsuit, since a medical visit provides firm documentation of your injury.
Broken bones are painful, scary, and can range from only minor fractures to severe breaks demanding numerous surgeries. The tissue surrounding broken bones may also be damaged, necessitating long-term therapy to prevent chronic pain and neuromuscular dysfunction.
Though a popular myth suggests that a bone is not broken if you can move the joint, it is impossible to diagnose a broken bone without an X-ray. If you take a sudden, sharp fall and feel concentrated pain in a bone or joint, go to an emergency room.
Because broken bones can cause extensive bleeding, and because the swelling that occurs over the first 12 hours can make the break more difficult to treat, prompt medical intervention is vital for your recovery.