What’s on the Thanksgiving Menu? A Feast of Upper Body Injuries.

Posted on: November 15th, 2023 by Dr. Edric G. Schwartz

Thanksgiving, a time for family gatherings, sumptuous feasts, and gratitude, is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. However, as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the hand and upper extremities, it’s also a time when I see a cornucopia of unique injuries. From sliced hands to dislocated elbows to broken wrists, take extra care this holiday season to stay injury-free and away from the emergency department. Here are some common hand injuries we see around this time:

Carving Casualties

The star of the Thanksgiving show, the turkey, often takes center stage when it comes to injuries. While it might not be the bird itself causing trouble, the tools used to carve it are often the culprits. Slip-ups with sharp knives might lead to nasty lacerations and cuts. The best advice? Carve with caution, stay focused, and keep your fingers out of the line of fire.

Meal Prep Mishaps

The Thanksgiving table is a display of culinary delight, but the prep beforehand can be taxing. Chopping, slicing, and dicing the ingredients, along with carrying heavy pots and pans, can pose risks to your hands and fingers. To ensure a safe and enjoyable cooking experience, remember to use sharp knives, proper cutting techniques, and the right kitchen tools. Be cautious when handling hot cookware and always use oven mitts or potholders.

Stairway Stumbles

With a house full of guests, staircases become high-traffic areas, and sometimes that traffic can result in slips, trips, and falls. These accidents have the potential to cause sprained wrists, dislocated shoulders, or broken arms. Keep the stairs well-lit, free of obstacles, and use handrails.

Overzealous Football Fans

For those who take part in or watch a friendly game of backyard football on Thanksgiving, there’s an increased risk of injuries. Tackles, slips, and twists can lead to jammed fingers, thumb sprains, broken wrists, and hand fractures. While it’s difficult to avoid hand injuries while playing football, try not to overdo it and remember to stretch your hands and fingers along with the rest of your body.

Slippery Business

On Thanksgiving in the Midwest, it could be 70 degrees and sunny, or 32 degrees and snowy and icy. If the weather takes a wintery turn, be cautious of the potentially treacherous conditions. Simple falls can result in complicated hand and elbow fractures, sprains, and other orthopedic issues. Be prepared with proper footwear and take your time on slippery surfaces. If you can, resist the instinct to reach out with stiff hands and wrists to try to break your fall.

Thanksgiving is a day to indulge in delicious food, quality time with loved ones, and relaxation. Being mindful of potential hand injuries means you’ll be able to enjoy the entire day!

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