Our hands work hard for us every day, serving as our primary tool for manipulating objects and interacting with the world around us. No one understands that better than someone who works with their hands on a daily basis, a group which includes carpenters, mechanics, electricians, and so many more skilled professionals. Unfortunately, accidents can happen, leaving an employee unable to work for the duration of their treatment and rehabilitation period.
At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, our workers’ compensation program is passionate about educating workers on the risks they may face in the workplace before they become injured. Here are some of the most common orthopedic hand injuries we’ve seen patients sustain at work:
Avulsions and Detachments
“Avulsion” is a medical term for an injury that involves the surface layers of your skin being peeled away from the rest of your affected body part, usually when a structure containing muscles and tendons is pulled in the opposite direction of the bone they surround. When avulsions happen, they usually end up exposing tissues, muscles, tendons, or even bone from beneath this layer of skin. Nerve damage is also common after an avulsion, making repairs to these injuries in the hands particularly tricky. But how do these grisly injuries happen at work? Avulsions and detachments are often the result of machinery-related accidents, whether due to a mechanical error, a user error, or a breach in safety guidelines.
Another occupational hazard to your hands in certain workplaces is the potential for injury by crushing. If your hand becomes crushed under a heavy object or an object falling at high speeds, you’ll usually experience sudden and intense pain followed by severe swelling. If the crush has caused any breaks in your hand, you may even hear a cracking sound at the time of impact. If this happens to you, you may also experience symptoms after the time of your injury, such as weakness, loss of motion, cramping, tingling, or even numbness in your hand. Workers who are at a particularly high risk for crushing injuries include anyone who regularly works with machinery or lifts heavy objects, such as construction workers, factory workers, and delivery workers.
Our fingers are some of the most universally involved body parts when it comes to our work, but they’re also some of the most fragile and vulnerable to injury. Finger fractures happen for a variety of reasons, from misuse of power tools to accidents that result in your finger getting slammed in a door. Regardless of the cause, what’s important to remember about finger fractures is the fact that although the bones are small, no injury to them is inconsequential. Your whole hand relies on all of the tiny bones in your fingers to stay properly aligned and perform its vital function as it should. If one of them is fractured and left untreated, you could face permanent deficits in your ability to use that finger, if not your entire hand.
Sprains and Strains
Finally, one of the top reasons patients come to their orthopedist in Illinois complaining of a hand injury is due to a sprain or strain. Unlike the other types of hand injuries we’ve discussed here, sprains and strains in the hand can happen to just about any professional at work after enough repetitive motion with no breaks or exercises. If these injuries are left unaddressed long enough, they can even progress into something more severe that could require surgery to correct, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The best way to avoid these injuries is to enact preventative measures, such as performing hand and wrist exercises, using proper posture while at work, and taking short breaks from repetitive motion at least every 3 hours.
At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, our workers' compensation department can be reached directly at (847) 285-4220, or by completing a Request an Appointment form on our website at www.barringtonortho.com. Our Schaumburg location offers a work conditioning program which is designed to safely return the injured worker to full duty work.