Summertime Hand Injuries

By Marc J. Lamb, MD

Each year as the weather becomes warmer; we all flee our winter hibernation and become significantly more physically active. As a result, emergency rooms and urgent care facilities see a large spike in the number of hand and wrist injuries between May and October. Injuries such as lacerations; fractures; dislocations; tendonitis and infections are some of the most common reasons for office appointments and hand surgical procedures during the spring and summer. People of all ages are much more prone to hand and wrist ailments when more physically active at work, gardening, and golfing or even at the pool or beach.

No one ever expects to sustain an injury, however, there are some simple things you can do to prevent them. Always wear gloves as your first line of defense when using power tools, lawnmowers, and trimmers. Read and abide by all safety instructions when cleaning or unclogging your mower, trimmer, or chainsaw. Always make sure that the motor is off when doing maintenance or cleaning. Although this may be common sense, many of us who are in a hurry forget to protect ourselves from injury or falsely think that “it can never happen to me”.

Sports-related injuries are also much more frequent during the warmer weather. The most common hand/wrist/elbow problems seen at Princeton Orthopedic Associates are overuse injuries. Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) and tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) are typical summertime complaints. Epicondylitis is a painful condition that occurs when the tendons in your forearm are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and hand. Other less common tendinopathies of the biceps and triceps muscles are also more likely with warm-weather activities. Hand and wrist overuse syndromes such as De Quervain’s tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons of the base of the thumb) and “trigger fingers” (swelling of a finger flexor tendon that can result in locking or catching) are frequently seen in golf, racquet sports, and weightlifting. Many of these overuse injuries are preventable through stretching exercise, moderation of activities, and equipment adjustments.

If you, unfortunately, are a victim of one of these summertime overuse injuries please call and make an appointment. In many cases, early diagnosis and preventative treatments can reduce downtime from enjoyable physical activities. However, if you have sustained a traumatic injury, please seek medical care urgently. Princeton Orthopaedic Associates offers urgent care appointments at our Princeton, Monroe, and Robbinsville offices, Monday-Friday (8am-4pm) and Saturdays(8am-11am). Have a safe, healthy active summer.

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