Can you think of a tool that you use more often than your own hands? It’s inarguable that they are extremely valuable, but we often take them for granted.
Due to their frequent and wide variety of uses, hand injuries are fairly common. Our hands are extremely complex body parts that make up more than 25% of all the bones in our bodies and these bones have little protection as they are surrounded by a thin layer of muscle and fat. With such high risks, we need to be sure we do what we can to protect our hands.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one million workers are treated in an Emergency Department for hand injuries annually. When these injuries occur, it is possible to help restore function and get back into action.
Traumatic Hand Injuries
Common hand, wrist, and forearm injuries may include fractures, tendon injuries, ligament strains and dislocations, blood vessel injuries, burns, amputated digits and limbs, or nerve injuries.
Treatments can range from a simple R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevate) series of the injury site to needing surgery and physical therapy. After an evaluation, your doctor will provide you with a personal treatment plan for the best results possible.
When to Seek Care
The majority of traumatic hand injuries will unfortunately bring you to the Emergency Department. Even minor injuries can become severe without prompt and proper treatment.
It may seem obvious to come in if you might have a broken bone or deep cut, but there are other reasons to have your hand injury evaluated by a health care provider immediately:
- Loss of strength or motion
- Severe pain or severe bleeding
- Signs of infection including redness, warmth near the injury, tenderness, swelling, or fever
Hand Injury Prevention
You can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting your hands. Consider the following tips to help prevent hand injuries:
- Use Gloves When Possible – Gloves provide an extra layer of protection from sharp tools, splinters, burns, chemicals, plus many other dangerous situations.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings – Look out for possible causes of hand injuries like hot surfaces, live electrical equipment, tools that are not in good condition, or situations in which your hands or fingers could be severely pinched.
- Educate Yourself on Proper Use of Tools – For example, if you cook a lot, learn proper knife handling skills.
- Expect What Can Go Wrong – Accidents happen. If you think a tool has the possibility of giving out or slipping, your reaction could prevent an injury. You should also always inspect your tools before use to reduce these risks.
- Do Not Use Drugs or Alcohol – Alcohol and drug consumption can slow down your reflexes which could likely result in injury to your hands if using large machinery or tools.
Amitabha Mitra, MD, MBBS, FRCS, FACS, is a surgeon with UPMC Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and sees patients at UPMC Williamsport, Divine Providence Campus, 1100 Grampian Blvd., Williamsport. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Mitra, call 570-326-8005. For more information, visit UPMC.com/Plastics-ReconstructiveNCPA.