As the weather warms up, we are all spending more time outdoors gardening, playing sports, and taking on DIY projects around the house. These activities can put a lot of stress on the complex combination of 27 bones in the hand combined with 8 in the wrist. Being out of practice and using improper form can lead to repetitive use injuries. In today’s post, we’ll discuss common springtime hand, wrist, and elbow injuries, and what you can do to avoid them.
Landscaping, Gardening, and DIY Project Injuries
Often safety is sacrificed in favor of completing a job.
As the weather warms up, our South Louisiana landscape demands our attention. To ensure you cut your lawn and nothing else, taking a few simple precautions can help. Always wear gloves as a first line of defense when operating a mower or other trimming tools. Keep your hands away from blades and the chute at all times. If your mower is clogged, use extreme caution when cleaning it out. Never touch mower blades with your hands, even if the engine is off. Once an obstruction is cleared, the blades may unexpectedly turn and cause serious hand damage.
Be aware of your surroundings when working in the yard or cleaning out your gutters. Once the ladder starts sliding is the wrong time to think about how well it is secured. According to an article in Safety and Health Magazine, the National Safety Council reported 645 people died and another 49,250 were injured as the result of a fall from a ladder or lift. “Often safety is sacrificed in favor of completing a job.”
When going into a fall, it is human nature to try to catch yourself with your hands. Approximately 10 percent of all broken bone injuries are scaphoid – better known as wrist – fractures. The reason makes sense: the scaphoid is the small bone that is located next to the thumb on your wrist; it is most commonly injured as a result of falling on an outstretched hand.
Getting Back Into the Swing of Your Favorite Sport
Great spring weather invites us all to get back to playing our favorite outdoor sports. Unfortunately, sprained and strained wrists, along with other injuries can occur as a result of overuse. Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome become more pronounced in the spring, often due to repetitive overuse that comes with bike riding.
Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow, a cumulative trauma injury, is the result of the deterioration of tendons that attach muscle to the bone. Pitcher’s Elbow, also known as Little League elbow, results from excessive throwing motions used in sports. While all these injuries appear to be sports-related, it doesn’t mean that you need to be athletic to develop them – each is related to tendon overuse and misuse. Meanwhile, elbow fractures and dislocations are very common in the spring due to falls on the court.
Grilling Your Food, Not Your Fingers
Always have a way to put out a fire other than water - such as baking soda and a fire extinguisher.
With kids, family and friends buzzing around, it’s easy to get distracted while grilling. With the average grill reaching temperatures around 450°F, one slip can turn a great time into a trip to the ER. As we discussed in the blog post on Avoidable Holiday Hand Injuries, prepare your equipment by cleaning the grilling racks and grease trap before you get started. Potholders, gloves, and long utensils will help protect your hands from flame flare ups and sharp objects such as skewers. When the party's over, don’t be tempted to pour water directly on the coals. A sudden burst of steam can cause serious burns. Always have a way to put out a fire other than water - such as baking soda and a fire extinguisher.
Enjoy a Safe and Productive Spring!
As the weather warms up please enjoy your outdoor activities safely. If you, or someone you know, experiences an injury, or prolonged pain in the hand, wrist, or elbow, contact Dr. Donnelly’s office for an evaluation. In situations where the hand, wrist or elbow is severely compromised, a visit to a hand specialist could mean the difference between a return to normal function and an extended period of complications.
About Dr. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD
Dr. Brandon P. Donnelly is a board certified hand surgeon with Pontchartrain Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. Dr. Donnelly completed his hand and microsurgery fellowship at the prestigious Philadelphia Hand to Shoulder Center. Dr. Donnelly treats all ages of patients in the greater New Orleans area for hand, wrist, and elbow conditions.
This site is not intended to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this website and links to other websites, Brandon P. Donnelly, MD provides general information for educational purposes only. The content provided in this website and links, is not a substitute for medical care or treatment. You should not use this information in place of a consultation or the advice of your healthcare provider. Brandon P. Donnelly, MD is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.