Freezing and non-freezing cold weather injuries: a systematic review


A systematic review of cold weather injuries (CWIs) was conducted, with 70 relevant articles being identified prior to 2016. This review summarises the general themes and findings of these articles. Risk factors for CWIs, such as ethnicity, smoking, gender, clothing, fatigue, age, cold water immersion, previous CWI, and dehydration, were identified. As well as risk factors, diagnosis techniques and freezing cold weather injury management tools such as thrombolysis, vasodilators and surgery were also highlighted. It was concluded that further research is required in order to improve the management of CWIs.


The debilitating impact of cold weather on the human body is one of the world’s oldest recorded injuries. The severe and life-changing damage which can be caused is now more commonly seen recreationally in extreme outdoor sports rather than in occupational settings such as the military. The diagnosis and treatment of these injuries need to be completed carefully but quickly to reduce the risk of loss of limb and possibly life. Therefore, we have conducted a systematic review of the literature surrounding cold weather injuries (CWIs) to ascertain the epidemiology and current management strategies.

Full Reference

Heil, K., Thomas, R., Robertson, G., Porter, A., Milner, R. and Wood, A. (2016). Freezing and non-freezing cold weather injuries: a systematic review. British Medical Bulletin, 117, 79-93.