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Icy Conditions Pose Greater Risk for Tailbone Injury & May Trigger Asthma

Rutgers professors weigh in on cold weather dangers

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Winter weather raises the specter of arm and back injuries, heart attacks and other common health hazards in winter, but there is also a higher risk for tailbone injuries. “Unlike a lot of other bones in the body, there is no muscle behind the tailbone, so if someone’s legs get swept out from under them, nothing is going to help pad the fall,” said Patrick Foye, M.D., director of the Tailbone Pain Center and professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Another cold weather issue is that the freezing air triggers asthma. Rutgers scholar Reynold Panettieri, professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Science says asthma flare-ups can be caused by many environmental exposures, but cold air does not cause airway inflammation like dander does. “Asthma control can be worsened by cold air because it causes the lower airway to dry. Cold is sensed by nerve endings, causing the airway smooth muscle to constrict which results in coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.”

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