Tag Archive for: foosh

Ice and Snow Contribute to Falls, Broken Wrists

Colorado is notorious for fast-moving winter storms that quickly turn into sunny days. And while we all appreciate fast-melting snow, the constant melting and refreezing means plenty of icy walkways and streets, which can translate to lots of slips and falls, which can result in a broken wrist. When you’re out and about this winter, take care to watch for black ice – especially in the mornings before the temperatures heat up.

While there are many injuries that can come from slipping on ice, one of the most common is a broken wrist. It’s a natural reaction to reach out your arms to try to catch yourself, and that often results in a wrist fracture. It’s so common, in fact, that orthopedic specialists refer to this as a “FOOSH” which stands for Falling On Out-Stretched Hand.

Symptoms of a Wrist Fracture

If you fall on your hand or wrist, you’re likely to experience swelling, bruising, and pain to the touch, which could be the signs of a wrist fracture. If the break is severe, your hand or wrist may show visual signs of displacement, and a bone can even break the skin. If you have trouble moving your hand or fingers or your hand or wrist is numb, it’s a good idea to seek immediate treatment. Waiting not only delays your pain relief but can slow or impair the healing process and can impact long-term recovery.

If a bone does break the skin – called an open fracture – medical treatment should be sought immediately to minimize blood loss and the risk of infection.

The two bones in your arm that connect to the hand are the radius and the ulna. A radius fracture – specifically a distal radius fracture – is the most common type of break from FOOSH. Distal refers to the location of the break, toward the end of the radius, typically within an inch or two of the hand. While the ulna can break too, it’s far less common.

Treatment options for a broken wrist depend on the location of the break, or breaks, and the severity. A hand and wrist doctor will do a physical evaluation to evaluate swelling, mobility, and any displacement of bones. If a break is suspected, they will recommend an x-ray or a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Treating a Broken Wrist

The first priority is restoring the broken bone to its original position and keeping it there to allow for proper healing. A hand and wrist specialist will generally recommend a splint or cast to immobilize the joint, while severe breaks may require surgery to restore the bone position and maximize recovery. In some cases, a break can limit blood flow to the wrist or hand, which is serious. In this situation, emergency treatment is necessary to minimize tissue damage. If blood flow is interrupted for a period of time, bone tissue may die, and a bone graft may be needed as part of the reconstruction and healing process.

Your orthopedic surgeon will determine the right treatment plan for your situation with the goal of maximizing recovery while ensuring that the treatment plan is realistic for your level of health and other lifestyle factors.

If surgery is required, repair and stabilization may involve metal screws, pins or plates to reconnect bone fragments. Post-surgery, physical therapy is helpful in rebuilding range of motion and strength. Most people experience both stiffness and weakness post-surgery or after extended immobilization.

There are still several months of ice and snow ahead of us, so watch for icy sidewalks and wear sturdy rubber-soled shoes to minimize your risk of slipping. If you do fall on your hand or wrist, see a CCOE hand and wrist specialist to diagnose and treat your pain so you can get back to what you love. Schedule today.

Take Care This Holiday Season to Avoid a Hand Injury

Need a hand this holiday season?

Our hands and wrists perform countless holiday tasks that are often taken for granted until function is impaired. Did you know that the hand is comprised of more than 120 ligaments, 27 bones, 29 joints, and a network of delicate nerves?

Hand and wrist injuries are common during the holidays, and (if we ever get another snowstorm) icy outdoor conditions combined with seasonal activities can take things to the next level. Whether it’s hanging lights while on ladders or heading to the hills to find some actual snow, unexpected slips can suddenly lead to hand and wrist injuries. Here are a few common holiday hand and wrist hazards to guard against this year.

Whoops vs. FOOSH

Falls on outstretched hands, known as FOOSH to orthopedic hand specialists, is a major cause of a broken hand or wrist. This is common among skiers and snowboarders but can happen in everyday life too. Stretching too far while on a ladder or for a door with an armful of packages can cause you to lose your balance. It’s natural to brace yourself from falls like these by reaching out with a free hand and that outstretched hand can become a fractured hand or wrist.

The radial bone is the largest bone in the forearm and the portion of the radial bone located directly above the hand is the distal end. The most common cause of distal radial fractures is a FOOSH. Pain, swelling, and difficulty of movement are signs of a possible fracture which requires immediate attention. The longer the delay in treatment, the greater risk of complications or full recovery. 

Do I Need Stitches or Surgery?

Holiday hand hazards aren’t confined to icy conditions. Indoor holiday activities can also lead to hand injury or pain. Did you know that holiday cooking is a big source of hand injuries each year? About 10% of ER visits throughout the year are related to hand injuries, but during the holidays, knife-related injuries, which can cause severe nerve or tendon damage, are more common.

The holidays often combine major cooking projects with chaos. So, as you’re undertaking extensive food preparation in a crowded kitchen, remember to take it slow and keep your eyes focused on your task.

From cutting raw vegetables to carving the holiday bird or roast, knife cuts are a common cause of hand injury. If you cannot stop the bleeding, always seek care immediately. Depending on the cut’s severity, depth, length and location, you may need to see a doctor, who may recommend stitches or surgery.

Deep hand cuts on the palm can result in flexor tendon damage. Flexor tendons control hand movement and the loss of that movement is an indication of possible tendon damage. Surgery is a common option to repair tendon and nerve damage. While some nerve damage can regenerate on its own, complex nerve reconstruction can require surgical attention to maximize recovery.

If you think you may need stitches, CCOE’s Saturday morning walk-in clinic is available for cuts that can’t wait until Monday, but don’t require an immediate trip to the ER.

Oh, My Aching Hands

Basic holiday tasks such as wrapping presents and tying bows can aggravate arthritis, tendonitis or carpel tunnel, among other hand and wrist damage, and may require attention.

As we age, joint inflammation can lead to severe hand and wrist pain. Arthritis is the presence of stiffness or pain in one or more joint. Although juvenile arthritis occurs, arthritis is much more prevalent in aging adults. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the most common signs of arthritis. Proper diagnosis is essential to identifying the right treatment plan.

Hand and wrist injuries require extensive knowledge and training to accurately diagnose and treat. Our specialists have received advanced training in conditions affecting the hands and wrists including fractures, arthritis, tendonitis.

Dr. Karl Larsen, Dr. Ky Kobayashi, Dr. Gregg Martyak, and Dr. Chance Henderson have decades of specialized hand experience that informs diagnosis and comprehensive, personalized treatment plans to treat the source of your pain, stiffness, and limited mobility.

For knowledgeable hand and wrist pain diagnosis and patient-centered results, trust the CCOE team. To speak to a hand and wrist specialist today, call (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment.