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Winter Weather & Sports Injuries: What to Know, Where to Go, and What to Do For Fractures, Sprains, and Torn Ligaments

January 27, 2016

Where You Go First Is Crucial For Recovery

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (January 27, 2016) – While the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are perfect for ice skating, skiing, sledding, and snowboarding, the season also marks the start of weather-related injuries as people of all ages suffer bone fractures, ligament tears, and sprains due to snowy or icy conditions.

So, when your eight-year old falls while ice-skating and injures his elbow, or you take a bad spill on the slopes, ski pole in hand, or your elderly parent slips on black ice in the driveway…where should you head first? The ER, an urgent care center, your primary care physician, or a specialist?

Where you go first is critical for proper diagnosis, treatment, and healing.

“For any injury of the hand, wrist, or elbow, the front line for treatment ideally is an orthopedic specialist. If you’re unable to see a specialist quickly, head to an urgent care center equipped to treat significant injuries,” advises Paul Fragner, MD. Dr. Fragner is Director of Hand Surgery for the Westchester Orthopaedic Institute and is a specialist in hand, wrist, and elbow surgery who practices at the new White Plains Hospital Medical and Wellness facility in Armonk, NY as well as White Plains Hospital Physician Associates – Orthopedic Specialists.

This winter, Dr. Fragner expects to see wrist fractures due to black ice, skier’s thumb injuries, and growth plate fractures as children fall playing winter sports. Where you go first to be treated is important, he says. “Some injuries, like skier’s thumb, are time sensitive. If you fall with a pole in your hand and tear the ligament, you only have two weeks to fix it surgically,” says Dr. Fragner. He suggests that instead of the ER, you head to an urgent care center – ideally one staffed by doctors with wide-ranging expertise and resources. “For example, the Urgent Care Center here in Armonk is staffed by White Plains Hospital ER doctors who have direct communication with the best specialists in the county,” he says.

Dr. Fragner also cautions that sometimes an x-ray taken at a hospital may not tell the whole story. Even if a bone is not fractured, further treatment may be needed. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about hand and wrist problems that lead to misdiagnosis, or to patients being unsure of where they should go next. Some patients will walk out of their doctor’s office with an x-ray without any idea of what the next step is in their care,” he notes.

Streamline your diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up when possible.

At White Plains Hospital’s new Armonk urgent care center, a patient can walk-in without an appointment and be seen immediately. They can receive x-ray or other state-of-the-art imaging on site, and they can follow up on location with specialists and even do physical therapy. “You don’t have to leave the system to receive comprehensive care for your injury,” Dr. Fragner notes.

Since injuries come up suddenly and most patients see specialists less frequently, some may hold off on visiting an ER or an urgent care center in favor of waiting to see a pediatrician or primary care physician. Dr. Fragner advises against this as it can delay treatment and will likely conclude in a referral to see an orthopedic specialist anyway.

Take special care when dealing with bone injuries in children.

It’s especially important that children see the appropriate practitioner for a bone injury. Dr. Fragner notes that fractures that occur in children can be misdiagnosed as a sprain since they may not show up on an x-ray. “Children have growth plates, which are a part of the bone that is made up of cartilage. Growth plate fractures are one of the most common fractures for children, but they can be missed on an x-ray. They require treatment just like any other fracture.” If left untreated, some growth plate injuries can cause permanent damage and interfere with proper growth of the limb.

About White Plains Hospital

White Plains Hospital (WPH) is a 292-bed not-for-profit health care organization with the primary mission of providing exceptional acute and preventive medical care to all people who live in, work in or visit Westchester County and its surrounding areas. Centers of Excellence include the Dickstein Cancer Center, The William & Sylvia Silberstein Neonatal & Maternity Center and The Ruth and Jerome A. Siegel Stroke Center. The Hospital’s Flanzer Emergency Department is the busiest in Westchester County, seeing over 55,000 visits a year. White Plains Hospital performs lifesaving emergency and elective angioplasty in its Joan and Alan Herfort, M.D. Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Marie Promuto Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. White Plains Hospital also has outpatient medical facilities in Armonk and New Rochelle. The Hospital is fully accredited by the Joint Commission and earned its recognition as a Top Performer for Key Quality Measures® in 2015 and 2013. The Hospital is also an eleven-time winner of the Consumer Choice Award, an honor given to the nation’s top hospitals by the National Research Corporation, and received Magnet® designation in 2012 from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). In 2014 White Plains Hospital received the Outstanding Patient Experience Award from Healthgrades®, given to only 5% of hospitals nationwide. White Plains Hospital is a proud member of the Montefiore Health System. For additional information, visit