Long prairie winters can do more than simply chill us to the bone. Winter as a whole tends to wreak more havoc on our bodies than other seasons.

The most common winter injuries

Injuries from slips and falls are the most common in the winter, no matter how careful we are. There can always be that small patch of ice that catches us off guard and leaves us on the ground.

Even something as seemingly simple as brushing snow off a car can leave us with muscle strains.

Don't shrug the cold off

Neck pain, pain shooting into a shoulder or an arm radiating from the neck, and headaches are common symptoms seen in the winter.

That often is caused by what we call "shoulder earings." People tend to shrug their shoulders a lot with the cold and bring them up to stay warm.

That causes more tension in your shoulders and neck and then those muscles pull on your neck.

That tension can cause irritation to the sciatic nerve. Not only can that cause low back pain and discomfort, but that pain can also travel down the legs.

The best thing to do to combat this is to keep those muscles loose rather than tensing up in the cold.

Pay attention to the symptoms

Sometimes with that tension associated with the cold, we might find that it reveals underlying problems that have been building up for months or even years.

If someone comes in with neck pain, or pain radiating, or headaches, and we take an x-ray we might find they have osteoarthritis.

It's important to pay attention to those aches and pains and take them seriously. It never hurts to have them checked by a professional.

Simple ways to prevent cold weather injuries

What you wear matters. Dress appropriately for the weather. Wear a warm jacket, and even a scarf can help prevent those shoulder earrings. 

And your wardrobe means footwear, too. Shoes or boots that have a good grip will put us at ease as we walk across cold parking lots and sidewalks.

Slow down and loosen up, whether you're walking or driving. These steps will help prevent accidents all around.