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How do you know if you should go to the Dr. after a fall?

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  • How do you know if you should go to the Dr. after a fall?

    So I fell last night. One of those stupid slow-mo falls from walking around the ring on the buckle totally relaxed, no stirrups, after a nice hack, and some kids came whizzing around the corner on bikes. I landed right on my tailbone. It hurts like hell, obviously.

    I can't decide if I should go to the dr - I don't want to spend the $ if it's not necessary, but if it's something to do with my back I don't want to wait too long to fix it. What are the signs that make you think, yeah, I should man up and go see someone about this?? I think head trauma is pretty obvious, but what about for other things that might be borderline?

  • #2
    Well I have stupidly good health insurance so luckily for me it doesn't come down to paying for the Dr. However, I rarely go for minor falls. Basically know your body. I have an incredibly high pain tolerance, but I also can tell when something isn't right that needs to get checked. I would say with your tailbone you could wait it out a bit as long as it isn't travelling up your back, and it is bareable. Bruises take a bit, escpecially ones you have to sit on. If the pain worsens or starts moving then get it checked. I would say regardless if it isn't starting to feel better after 48-72 hours a call might be in order.


    • #3
      Regardless of what you decide re: dr. Ice is your friend. Throw a couple of bags of tortillas in freezer and alternate the 20 mins on/20 mins off. Tortillas are great because you can sit/lay on them or tuck inside pants.


      • #4
        When you said tortillas, I pictured tortilla chips - which had me all sorts of confused. I use frozen peas, but same idea.

        In general, I think about visiting a doctor if either the pain is sharp and ongoing (sufficient to make me think something's broken), if there's any chance there might be head trauma, if there's anything that might need stitches or raise a spectre of needing a tetanus shot, or if the pain doesn't diminish but persists at the same level past a few days or substantially impedes the basics of life. Other than that, ice, ibuprofen, sleep, gentle stretching seem to work for me. And cussing. Lots of cussing.


        • #5
          yeah..... I'm looking at my ring finger which I jammed getting on my OTTB (when he took off)....it was three times the size it should be within 30 minutes. Pretty colors too. Was pretty sure I didn't break it (but maybe dislocated it). It hurt but I could move it.....it would be fine right...it is just a finger.

          Didn't bother to go the DR. (but did ice it). Now 9 weeks later...thinking I probably should have gone to the Dr. as it isn't healed (and looks kind of crooked).

          If you have accute pain...I'd say you should probably go to the DR. Not that I take my own advice....
          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


          • #6
            They aren't really going to do much for a tailbone (bruised, cracked, whatever). I don't go for stuff that I don't think needs a cast. I also keep frozen packs in the freezer at all times and use arnica liberally. I landed smack on my tailbone in late April. I find it is usually (it is surprising how many times I've done this, not all riding related) 3-4 weeks before it is 100%, though I was able to ride within a week and have always been able to ride within 2.

            If it does not feel substantially better within 1-2 weeks, I would then consider seeing a doc.
            OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


            • #7
              I just went to the doc twice for a fall where I fell into a fence and bruised the crap out of my calf. I couldn't put weight on it and my foot was really cold and numb so I got worried, but both times I went to the doc they basically told me that I was being paranoid and there was nothing wrong with me. I have good insurance but I spent about $100 for them to tell me that, so I won't be going unless there is obviously something broken.
              "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."



              • #8
                i use the same logic as when i would take horsey to the vet

                are you lame for more than a couple days without getting at least a bit better with some sort of amateur care?

                are you having obvious signs of distress? heart rate normal? capillary refill ok? how do your eyes look? temp??

                in all seriousness tho (i fell off last week and clunked my head and neck pretty hard) if i dont start feelin better in a week, id go stand in line at the clinic. if its a blinding pain, i'd go to the e.r.

                in my experience tho, even for a massive laming pain to a person... alotta dr's say the same old, ice it, take it easy, you'll be fine. even with x-rays etc... waste of time goin to a dr unless its major.

                hope you feel better (my head and neck are finally getting better after a week altho i did book my first ever chiro in 2 weeks lol )

                Take it easy with the tailbone eh!
                Carol and Princess Dewi



                • #9
                  It does really depend on WHAT is hurt. If it is your tailbone, as scubed said, they won't really do anything for that. You will want to sit on a cushion, ice it, etc etc. They can't exactly splint it (related excellent story; my grandmother cracked her tailbone sitting on our tile floor rooting for Secretariat to win the Derby -- she bounced so hard she cracked it. She was a serious racing fan...)

                  I recently crashed and hurt my hands -- they really thought one was broken, and it turns out that if the bone they were worried about HAD been broken, and not treated properly, it heals really badly and can cause serious arthritic problems in your hand/wrist down the road.

                  In the end I just needed some splinting and time, but I would definitely go again for anything in my hands/wrists, just in case.

                  For you, I'd say you could ice it and see it if seems to be getting (slowly) better....
                  The big man -- my lost prince

                  The little brother, now my main man


                  • #10
                    GO ! So what if all you lose is a few bucks. Doctors can make pain/worry go away and healing go faster. Then again, you may just enjoy pain and suffering!
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._


                    • #11
                      In my latest adventure (horse tripped and I pitched off over his shoulder), I decided to hit the ER after the pain was severe enough to make me lie down again in the ring after walking across it to catch the horse.
                      Fractured L-2, and I'm in a brace.
                      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                      • #12
                        Ghazzu: that sounds painful!

                        Maybe we should start a list of triggers that should send you to the doctor following a fall:

                        1. If you lay back down on the ground in the arena after catching your horse.....

                        And yes, GotSpots... I meant the flat tortillas. The tortilla chips might be tough to get to freeze properly, but would be handy if you need a snack!


                        • #13
                          All good advice above. If the pain doesn't lesson, or go away after a few days I'd go. Also go if the pain spreads to another part of your body!

                          I didn't even fall off and I'm facing surgery. After an event in Aug. I had neck and shoulder pain. It got worse after a week, so I went to the emergency room. They said it was a pulled muscle. After pain pills, and muscle relaxers for 3days it still wasn't better so I went to my reg. Dr. He sent me for an MRI and I have 4 bulging discs.
                          "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


                          • #14
                            I think it is a matter of knowing yourself. Most falls I have had result in bruises. So, if I don't clunk my head and obstensibly bang myself up, I'll wait before I bother. Ice and aspirin work for me. An occasional glass of wine isn't bad either.

                            However there is a law of averages with falls. In August I took a hard fall off a green horse that IF Jr. spooked while schooling at a show. I fell hard on my right side and had the wind knocked out of me. Couldn't even shout at IF Jr. to cut it out! Of course I was super busy with running the show that weekend, so I waited to see how the bruises were doing. After the 2nd day it was still hurting more than I thought it should, so I decided to make an appointment to see my GP. I do have health insurance so cost is less an issue than making the time. Sure enough, I had fractured two ribs and fluid in one lung. My doctor thought I was asymptomatic (a fancy name for being weird) for the trauma I experienced. She insisted that I get a CAT scan of my head for a concussion -- even though I knew I hadn't hit my head. I've had a concussion before, so I knew what that was like. Anyway, no concussion and I had to stay off horses for 6 weeks. I feel great now and I'm back riding.

                            Bottomline with ribs is that the fractured ones just need time to heal. You don't tape them. I showed up for work as scheduled and that drove my staff wild because they really thought I should take time off. However, being vertical was the most comfortable position, so I was fine with working.
                            Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                            • #15
                              I, unfortunately, do not apply the same logic to me as I do to my horses (on many, many things). I often probably skip going to the doctor when I should, but I'm also not used to having insurance!

                              When I sprained my ankle last spring (not from falling off a horse, just from jumping off a fence...dumbass), I got hauled off to the ER kicking and screaming (almost literally). BUT, my ankle was blowing up rapidly and within the time it took to get me out of the pasture and to the barn it had already started to turn pretty colors. I was convinced it would be ok...but then I would try and put a little weight on it and crumple. Considering how BAD it hurt even after getting put in an air cast and handed a pair of crutches, it was probably a wise choice. I also went to the doctor last winter when I fell down a flight of stairs and separated my shoulder...again. That trip wasn't worth the effort (basically was told to toughen up until I really mess it up).

                              So, I guess the best idea is to know yourself. I know what's what for the most part, and have enough people around me to tell me what the difference is between a little thing and a big thing (like the ankle).


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
                                When you said tortillas, I pictured tortilla chips
                                And I pictured Totilas. In the fridge.

                                I don't go to the doctor unless I think they can do something for me. Which isn't often. Much of what doctors do is give you tools to allow your body to heal on its own. When there is no displacement (and even when there is, to some extent) most fractures heal just fine and don't require treatment (actually, there is no treatment in many except rest and NSAIDS).

                                But then again, I'm an EMT and usually know what I'm looking at and what to do about it.

                                One thing I want to mention on the subject of falls in general: if you have ANY amnesia about a fall, go to the doctor. If you don't remember the events leading up to the fall, the fall itself, or the events following the fall, have someone else drive you to the ER. Even if you remained conscious throughout -- amnesia is more significant than being out briefly.


                                • #17
                                  I have suffered enough pain for twenty lifetimes. I go to the Dr if for no other reason then to get some pain relief. No sense suffering needlessly when you have a legitimate injury.
                                  McDowell Racing Stables

                                  Home Away From Home


                                  • #18
                                    The advantage of living in Canada. You never ask yourself IF you should spend the $$$. You just go! No cost.

                                    A friend of my daughter's fell on ice two winters ago and hurt her tailbone. She ended up with cysts that had to be removed in August. The pain never subsided. I don't know what she did or did not do at the time of the injury though, but I am sure she went to the doctor's.


                                    • #19
                                      I have also fell off (no I got bucked off!) and landed on my tail bone. Yes it hurts like heck. I walked like a 90 yo woman, (i'm only 23) and it hurt for a long time. I would suggest going to the chiropractor. That's what I did, he told me that I jammed my tail bone up and to the side. But it wasn't broken. They take a while to heal. Like months. It happened to me over a year ago, and occasionally if I am sitting wrong it will flare up.

                                      Ice it and take it easy, but the only thing a Dr. can do if give you pain killers.


                                      • #20
                                        I don't go to the Dr. nearly as often as I take my animals! I figure if my head isn't involved I'll be OK.
                                        My list of injuries that have eventually required a doctor's help were:
                                        -End of thumb chopped off with big pruning loppers by my very good buddy. We both agreed duct tape wouldn't be the answer. That time I went immediately bc there was alot of blood involved.
                                        -6 broken ribs and a concussion in one episode. I didn't go right away-put the horse to bed and lay around on the frozen peas for a few hours. Then I passed out in the bathroom. Poor daught had to get me off the floor and dial 911. Spent that night in the hospital.
                                        -Broken leg this past April. Fell onto the very sharp edge of a ditch whilst schooling. Got back on, jumped the ditch a few times (made my point), took horse home and put him to bed. Ice, Advil, hobbly. Next day, same poor daught kidnapped me and took me to the ER, xrays showed a lovely break.

                                        I have many finger joints that have been bent the wrong way or squashed. They hurt most of the time but I know how to make a splint and have worn a few for a few days here and there. When my back is involved, if it isn't fine in a few days I run right straight to my chiropractor.

                                        Tailbones are tricky. They hurt like crazy even if they aren't broken. If it really kills and you're really curious, get an xray. It won't make any difference but at least you'll know. You can get a rubber donut at the pharmacy-stick it in a plastic bag then into a pillow case. Stuff the hole with bags of frozen peas and you're all set. Advil. Wine. Bourbon. They can all help.
                                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.