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.