Walking, hiking, biking and other recreational activities– in the spring and summer can be both wonderful and perilous. Despite adopting preventive measures, anyone is susceptible to orthopedic injuries when the snow starts to thaw and the blossoms start to bloom. Don’t let the sunshine fool you; you can be at risk for any number of orthopedic injuries – especially of the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Here are some common orthopedic injuries of the upper extremities that you might experience in the springtime.
Getting outside at that first hint of spring for many means getting their hands dirty. Gardening, shooting hoops or working on a car are activities everyone can look forward to. But with a complex combination of 27 bones in the hand combined with 8 in the wrist there is a lot that can go wrong. From sprains and strains to dislocations and fractures, the hands are particularly vulnerable come springtime. Sports injuries, to include Trigger Finger and Trigger Thumb, finger dislocations, nerve injuries and torn tendons and ligaments are common. Dog bites and deep cuts that can lead to infections are more common in spring as well.
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. Sprained and strained wrists can occur as a result of overuse or as a sports injury. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome become more pronounced in the spring, often due to the vibrations and repetitive overuse that comes from bike riding, cutting the lawn, spring cleaning, house painting and other hands-on activities.
Golfer’s Elbow, a cumulative trauma injury, is the result of the degeneration of the tendons that attach to the inner elbow. Pitcher’s Elbow, also known as Little League elbow, results from excessive throwing motions used in sports. Most common in racquet sports, Tennis Elbow is the deterioration of tendons that attach muscle to the bone. 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 somehow to tendon overuse and misuse. Meanwhile, elbow fractures and dislocations are very common in the spring due to falls and other mishaps.
Shoulder injuries most often are the result of overuse or dislocation. In spring, this overuse can be the result of too many laps in the pool, pitches on the mound, or strokes of a paddle; not to mention lifting heavy objects or chopping wood. Shoulder dislocation often occur as a result of a fall or other traumatic injury. Of all the overuse injuries that can occur with the shoulder, the rotator cuff tear is the most common. As we age, the risk of rotator cuff tears increases, however, so does the possibility of more acute tears that can result from overuse or extreme activity.
Prevention and Treating Your Summertime Injuries
With spring in bloom and summer on its way, you can expect more injuries to the upper extremities. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precaution. In sports, always use proper form and equipment that is right for you. Wearing elbow and wrist guards can help prevent injury, as can watching where you step or run to prevent falls. If you notice pain starting to develop; it could be a sign of tendonitis. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, rest and ice may be helpful. Use proper form when lifting; likewise, rest and stretch your shoulders often when swimming, painting, rowing or performing any other repetitive activity. If you believe you might have fractured something or the pain becomes severe, seek medical attention immediately.
Year-Round Hand to Shoulder Care in Maryland
No matter the season, injuries and accidents can occur. When it comes to orthopedists who are experts of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder, look no further than the skilled professionals at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder. Since 1987, our team of world-class, respected experts have been treating hand to shoulder injuries – from pain management and sports medicine to orthopedic and plastic surgery. Call us today at (410) 296-6232 or fill out our convenient online form. With offices in Lutherville, Bel Air, Clarksville, Eldersburg, Pasadena and Westminster, there is a location near you.