How to Recover From a Fall Down the Stairs

Man with injury after falling down stairs

Many public and private buildings have stairs. While stairs are convenient, injuries on stairs are common. Over a million people are hurt using stairs every year in the United States. Falling down the stairs can cause minor injuries, while some who fall down stairs suffer from permanent disabilities. Your injuries will determine your recovery period and treatment options.

Symptoms to Look for After a Fall

Assess your condition after you’ve fallen down the stairs, and look for signs of injury. Injury symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Limited range of mobility

Some injuries may be apparent, while other symptoms may not appear immediately. For example, injuries from falling include broken bones. A compound fracture is evident because the fractured bone sticks through your skin, but partial fractures aren’t visible. You may be able to walk after falling down stairs without realizing you fractured a leg bone, until your leg swells.  

Physical Recovery

Common injuries from falls include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, spinal cord injuries (SCIs), soft tissue damage, and bruising. Failing to treat injuries could cause complications that prolong your recovery. Taking appropriate steps ensures you recover as quickly as possible.

1. Seek medical attention.

A broken bone, bruise on leg, or torn ligament can all cause swelling. Since multiple injuries can cause the same symptoms, you need to see a medical professional. Doctors have the medical knowledge and expertise to evaluate your condition and provide a comprehensive diagnosis. 

2. Take medical tests.

Medical tests can verify your diagnosis and uncover issues that haven’t displayed symptoms yet. Taking medical tests is crucial because your test results verify the severity and nature of your injuries.

For example, back injuries from falling can cause back pain and reduced mobility. A hurt back could affect your ability to work or participate in everyday activities. You may recover from a bruised back within days by applying ice to the affected area and resting. However, spinal cord injuries can be severe, cause permanent disabilities, or require long-term physical therapy.

3. Follow the treatment recommendations.

Your physician should advise a course of treatment, which could range from rest to surgery. Surgery may be a last resort if non-invasive treatment fails to yield results. Your doctor can outline your options and explain the pros and cons of each alternative to help you decide the best way to approach your recovery.

Have you recently been involved in a slip and fall accident and have legal questions?

Mental Recovery

Traumatic injuries can cause mental health issues like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some people develop phobias, and those that suffer a severe injury falling down stairs may experience anxiety or panic attacks when attempting to use stairs after their accident.

Seeing a counselor can help with your recovery. Your therapist can help you process the trauma you experienced when you fell down. With counseling, some people can overcome their anxiety or phobias caused by their accidents.

Financial Recovery

Costs from even minor injuries can add up quickly if you need a lot of medical tests and have to take time off work for those appointments. Medical costs can skyrocket if you need physical therapy or surgery. 

A slip and fall attorney can address financial issues stemming from your fall. Suppose you fell using school stairs with a broken handrail and without non-slip treads. Consequently, you couldn’t prevent yourself from falling on the slippery stairs by grabbing the handrail. In that case, a slip and fall attorney can work to prove the school was negligent for failing to take appropriate steps to prevent injuries on the stairs.

Your slip-and-fall attorney can handle the paperwork and investigation and pursue litigation on your behalf, so you don’t have to navigate the legal system on your own. 

Why do people fall on stairs?

Reasons people fall on stairs include:

  • Carelessness
  • Missing steps
  • Broken handrails
  • Stair height differences
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Poor visibility

Sometimes, people fall because of unsafe conditions. If the person responsible for the stairs failed to address known safety issues, they might be liable for injuries. 

Preventing Falls on Stairs

You can improve safety at home by installing bright lights on all staircases. Good lighting can prevent you from tripping over an item dropped on the stairs. You’ll also be able to see safety hazards, such as spilled water or icy patches that could cause you to slip and fall.

Take your time when going up or down stairs. Use the handrails to give yourself extra stability and reduce your chances of falling.

Focus on your health and maintain good leg strength. Getting enough vitamin D and calcium and exercising helps maintain bone strength, reducing your chances of falling. 


Crist, C. (2017). Injuries on stairs occur in all age groups and abilities.

Ellis, R. E. (2018). Post-Trauma Treatment: Healing More Than the Body.

Keep on Your Feet — Preventing Older Adult Falls. (2020).