Success Stories

Eat Smart &
Get Fit

Battle of
The Bulge

What Moves Me

QC Outdoors

ORA Health Tips

Wade on the Trail with his dog

A heavy snowfall can lead to serious back and shoulder injuries for those trying to shovel it off their sidewalks and driveway, according to  ORA Orthopedics’s spine surgeon, Scott Collins. 

We’ve all heard the warnings before: When shoveling snow, don’t lift or twist or go too fast. These shoveling behaviors are a recipe for back pain, spine injury or heart attack.

So what should we do when the winter sky opens up?

Dr. R. Scott Collins, ORA Orthopedics

“Snow shoveling can cause lumbar strain in your lower back,” Quad City spine surgeon Scott Collins, M.D., ORA Orthopedics, says. “It also can aggravate any preexisting condition, like a previous injury or disc degeneration. You are also more vulnerable to strain if you are not used to using your back and have weaker muscles.”

Dr. Collins says injuries can range from urgent to inconvenient.

“If you have chest pain, go to the ER immediately,” he says. “Most heart attacks happen during the snow shoveling season. Don’t wait.

“As for your back, if the pain shoots down your leg, or lasts longer than 7 days, see your doctor. That type of injury should be evaluated.”

How to remove snow safely

Dr. Collins shares the following safety tips from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Shoveling:

Warm up before you pick up the shovel. Just like with any kind of exercise, time spent warming up before you head outside can help get your muscles ready for the stress of the activity and save you from some pain and fatigue after your through.

Make sure you’re well equipped. Use a shovel that fits your body. Your height and strength make a difference when it comes to picking the right shovel for the job. Avoid picking a snow shovel that’s too long, too big or too heavy.

Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow, and lift with your legs: squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.

Don’t throw your snow. You can hurt your back by lifting shovels full of snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.

Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.

Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek emergency care.

Be careful with devices like snow blowers that combine whirling blades with engines that spin them at high rates of speed.

Snow blowing:

Follow instructions. Prior to operating a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, or for repair and maintenance.

Safe fueling. Add fuel to the snowblower before you start it. Never add fuel when the engine is running or hot. And remember to add fuel outside rather than in a garage, shed or other enclosed area.

Watch out for those blades. Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes impacted, stop the engine and wait at least five seconds. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.

The machine is your responsibility. Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.

Watch the snow blower cord. If you are operating an electric snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times so you do not trip and fall.

Keep children away. Never let children operate snow blowers. Keep children 15 years of age and younger away when snow blowers are in use.

Snow shoveling injuries are common

Many injuries sustained during snow shoveling are serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2018, more than 137,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics for injuries that happened while shoveling or using snowblowers. (source: the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

So follow Doctor’s Orders and stay safe!

We’ve all heard the warnings before: When shoveling snow, don’t lift or twist or go too fast. These shoveling behaviors are a recipe for back pain, spine injury or heart attack.

So what should we do when the winter sky opens up?

Dr. R. Scott Collins, ORA Orthopedics

“Snow shoveling can cause lumbar strain in your lower back,” Quad City spine surgeon Scott Collins, M.D., ORA Orthopedics, says. “It also can aggravate any preexisting condition, like a previous injury or disc degeneration. You are also more vulnerable to strain if you are not used to using your back and have weaker muscles.”

Dr. Collins says injuries can range from urgent to inconvenient.

“If you have chest pain, go to the ER immediately,” he says. “Most heart attacks happen during the snow shoveling season. Don’t wait.

“As for your back, if the pain shoots down your leg, or lasts longer than 7 days, see your doctor. That type of injury should be evaluated.”

How to remove snow safely

Dr. Collins shares the following safety tips from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Shoveling:

Warm up before you pick up the shovel. Just like with any kind of exercise, time spent warming up before you head outside can help get your muscles ready for the stress of the activity and save you from some pain and fatigue after your through.

Make sure you’re well equipped. Use a shovel that fits your body. Your height and strength make a difference when it comes to picking the right shovel for the job. Avoid picking a snow shovel that’s too long, too big or too heavy.

Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow, and lift with your legs: squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist.

Don’t throw your snow. You can hurt your back by lifting shovels full of snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that puts stress on your back. Instead, walk to where you want to dump the snow.

Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid having to clear packed, heavy snow.

Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish with fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek emergency care.

Be careful with devices like snow blowers that combine whirling blades with engines that spin them at high rates of speed.

Snow blowing:

Follow instructions. Prior to operating a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, or for repair and maintenance.

Safe fueling. Add fuel to the snowblower before you start it. Never add fuel when the engine is running or hot. And remember to add fuel outside rather than in a garage, shed or other enclosed area.

Watch out for those blades. Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes impacted, stop the engine and wait at least five seconds. Use a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the recoil of the motor and blades after the machine has been turned off.

The machine is your responsibility. Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.

Watch the snow blower cord. If you are operating an electric snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times so you do not trip and fall.

Keep children away. Never let children operate snow blowers. Keep children 15 years of age and younger away when snow blowers are in use.

Snow shoveling injuries are common

Many injuries sustained during snow shoveling are serious enough to warrant a trip to the ER. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2018, more than 137,000 people were treated in emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and clinics for injuries that happened while shoveling or using snowblowers. (source: the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)

So follow Doctor’s Orders and stay safe!