After a Fall

You have had a fall today. That means that you slipped, tripped, or lost your balance. If your fall had been because of fainting or a seizure, you might need other tests.

It is normal to feel sore and tight in your muscles and back the next day, and not just the muscles you injured. Remember, all the parts of your body are connected, so while one area hurts now, the next day another may hurt. Also, when you injure yourself, it causes inflammation. This then causes the muscles to tighten up and hurt more. After the initial worsening, it should slowly improve over the next few days. Tell your healthcare provider if you have more severe pain.

Even without a definite head injury, you can still get a concussion from your head suddenly jerking forward, backward, or sideways when you fall. Concussions and even bleeding can still happen, especially if you have had a recent injury or take blood thinner medicine. It is not unusual to have a mild headache and feel tired and even nauseous or dizzy. 

Home care

  • Rest today and go back to your normal activities when you are feeling back to normal.

  • If you were injured during the fall, follow the advice from your healthcare provider about how to care for your injury.

  • At first, don't try to stretch out the sore spots. If there is a strain, stretching may make it worse. Massage may help relax the muscles without stretching them.

  • Use an ice pack or cold compress on and off at the sore spots 10 to 20 minutes at a time, as often as you feel comfortable. This may help reduce the inflammation, swelling, and pain.

  • Know that if you have any scrapes (abrasions), they often heal within 10 days. Keep the scrapes clean while they start to heal. But an infection may happen even with correct care. So watch for early signs of infection (such as warmth, redness, or swelling).

Medicines

  • Talk with your healthcare provider before taking new medicines, especially if you have other health problems or are taking other medicines.

  • If you need anything for pain, use acetaminophen or ibuprofen, unless you were given a different pain medicine to use. Talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines if you:

    • Have chronic liver or kidney disease

    • Ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding

    • Are taking blood-thinner medicines

  • Be careful if you are given prescription pain medicines, narcotics, or medicine for muscle spasm. They can make you sleepy and dizzy. And they can affect your coordination, reflexes, and judgment. Don't drive or do work where you can hurt yourself when taking them.

Fall prevention

  • Fix, remove, or replace anything that caused your fall.

  • Make your home safe by keeping walkways clear of objects you may trip over.

  • Use nonslip pads under rugs. Don't use small area rugs or throw rugs.

  • Don't walk in poorly lit areas.

  • Don't stand on chairs or wobbly ladders.

  • Be careful when reaching overhead or looking upward. This position can cause a loss of balance.

  • Be sure your shoes fit correctly, have nonslip bottoms, and are in good condition.

  • Be careful when going up and down curbs, and walking on uneven sidewalks.

  • If your balance is poor, think about using a cane or walker.

  • Stay as active as you can. Balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance all come from exercise. They all play a role in preventing falls.

  • If you have pets, know where they are before you stand up or walk so you don't trip over them.

  • Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol can cause balance problems and increase the risk for falls.

  • Use night lights.

  • Have your eyes tested to be sure you are seeing well, even if you already wear glasses. 

Follow-up

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If X-rays or CT scans were done, you will be told if there is a change in the reading, especially if it affects treatment.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these happen:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Confusion

  • Trouble waking up

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Fast or very slow heart rate

  • Seizure

  • Trouble with speech or vision, weakness of an arm or leg

  • Trouble walking or talking, loss of balance, numbness or weakness in one side of your body, or facial droop

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these happen:

  • Repeated falls, including falls that don't seem to happen for no reason

  • Dizziness

  • Severe headache

  • Blood in vomit or stools (look black or red in color)

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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