Keep your hands/wrists safe this Thanksgiving

Posted on: November 17th, 2021 by Trevor Schott, MD

There’s nothing festive about holiday-related injuries, but that doesn’t stop them from happening.

Each November and December, we see patients who injure their fingers, hands and wrists doing routine holiday activities. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that each year, there are more than 12,000 emergency room visits due to falls, cuts, and shocks related to holiday decorating.

Ladder falls. A ladder, a nail gun, and an icy rooftop. What could go wrong?

Wrist and hand injuries from ladder falls are quite common because many times individuals try and catch themselves with their hands resulting in trauma to the hand.

The damage caused by broken bones or fractures stemming from ladder falls can be extensive. If it happens to you, the first thing to do is remain calm and pay attention to any severe pain, swelling, tenderness or bruising you are feeling or seeing. You’ll want to see a doctor if you experience persistent pain or weakness in the wrist or hand.

The best solution, of course, is to avoid injury altogether. Inspect your ladder before using to ensure it’s still in good working condition and always make sure you place your ladder on a flat surface. In addition, work with a partner. Have someone hold the ladder while you climb, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Carving/cutting mishaps. From carving the Thanksgiving turkey to opening holiday packages, the sharp tools we use during the season put us at risk for injury.

Often, it’s possible to care for a cut at home. Apply pressure to stop the bleeding, then flush the wound with cool water. Clean out any debris using tweezers that have been wiped with rubbing alcohol. Finish with an antibacterial ointment and bandage.

But cuts can sometimes be more severe. We see injuries caused by shattered ornaments, dropped serving platters and boxcutters throughout the holidays.

Get medical attention for cuts that have jagged edges or are spread far apart. Also get help if the wound is deep enough that you can see fat, muscle, or bone. If the wound is particularly long or with gushing blood, you’ll also need to see a doctor.

In addition, if you can’t bend or extend your finger, you could have a tendon injury or if you can’t feel the tip of your finger, you likely have nerve damage. Both of these injuries are serious and should be evaluated as soon as possible.

The best idea is to take extra caution around potentially sharp objects. Don’t rush while washing those slippery dishes and carve the turkey away from you.

Icy slips. Black ice: it happens to the best of us. Try to keep your balance during the winter with shorter steps and rubberized shoe treads.

But if you find yourself going down, attempt to twist and roll to your shoulder. Your first instinct will be to reach your hand out – and then you might just wind up at the doctor with a wrist injury.

About 1 million Americans will be injured by a fall this year – and more than 80 percent of them will have happened on level ground.

You can self-treat fall injuries with ice and isolation but call your doctor if you find that pain persists, the area becomes numb, or you experience weakness and limited flexibility.

Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention for any holiday injuries. Remember, pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong!

We are here to help you ensure you can thoroughly enjoy the holidays and provide insight if medical advice is necessary.

We hope your holiday season is injury free, but our Injury Express is a great option for immediate, walk-in injury care, should you need us. Our clinics are located in Algonquin, McHenry, and Rockford. Call us at 779-771-7000 if you have any questions or you can click any location in this link to reserve a walk-in time.

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