What are Dog Walking Injuries?
Generally, this injury occurs in your fingers, wrists, and elbows. If a dog is fairly large, an unexpected lunge after another animal may cause an acute injury to the hand or arm. Additionally, chronic injuries can develop over time due to the animal tugging and pulling on their leash.
Types of Dog Walking Injuries
Injuries sustained while walking your dog usually involve the elbow, forearm, wrist, hand, and fingers, due to the leash being pulled on by the dog. Below is a partial list of some of the injuries related to dog walking that are treated at HandSport Surgery Institute in New York:
- Sprains of the interphalangeal joint of the fingers
- Sprains of the metacarpophalangeal joint of the fingers
- Wrist ligament injuries
- Elbow ligament injuries and forearm muscle strains
Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Dog Walking Injuries
When you injure your wrist while walking your dog, it will present with pain and limited range of motion with decreased strength of grip. This can cause inflammation in the ligaments, muscles, joints and tendons of the arm.
Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of dog walking injuries include:
- Swelling, numbness, tingling
- Obvious deformity
- Decreased range of motion
Causes of Dog Walking Injuries
Most injuries sustained while walking a dog result from the leash being pulled harshly due to an overly excited dog.
A contributing factor involves holding the leash improperly, such as wrapped around the forearm, wrist or hand, or walking the dog on wheels (like when the owner is riding a skateboard or a bike). We advise walking a dog on foot and utilizing proper body and leash mechanics while walking your dog to prevent injuries to the hand, wrist, and elbow.
Getting a Diagnosis for Dog Walking Injuries
Most injuries are easily distinguishable due to swelling, deformity to the region, bruising, or misalignment.
X-rays may be required to determine the severity of injury to bones or ligaments. MRIs can assist in visualizing the extent of damage to soft tissue, when in question.
Treatment Options for Dog Walking Injuries
Most dog walking injuries can be treated, quickly with simple conservative measures. However, consult with the hand surgeon following a painful episode while walking your dog.
Additionally, patients suffering from chronic or intermittent pain should seek medical attention because chronic injuries may worsen with time.
Conservative treatment plans include splinting, resting, taping, anti-inflammatory medication, a corticosteroid injection, and physical therapy. Additionally, patients given clearance to treat their injury with conservative measures can apply the P.R.I.C.E principles during a resting period:
- Protect: the injured area might be protected with a splint or buddy-taping.
- Rest: the injured area should be allowed to rest.
- Ice: use a cool pack or ice bag to reduce swelling and pain.
- Compression: judiciously wrapping the area with a bandage may limit the amount of swelling that occurs.
- Elevate: elevating affected region above the heart also helps control swelling by using gravity reduce the amount of fluid retention, especially in the fingers.
Infrequently, surgical intervention may be required to ease pain and optimize range of motion of the joints in the arm. Surgeries may range from minimally invasive procedures to treat fractures or torn tendons and ligaments.
Preventing an Injury while Walking a Dog
By holding the leash in the palm of your hand, you decrease the potential for injury from an excited dog. Additionally, you can adjust the pressure you apply to the leash while maintaining a firm grasp on your leash to prevent your dog from pulling too harshly.
Other ways to prevent dog walking injuries include:
- Don’t wrap the leash around your hand or wrist: Hold the leash in the palm of your hand instead.
- Use a short leash: A short leash projects control. A longer leash allows the dog to pick up momentum when excited, which has the potential to pull your hand, wrist, or arm uncomfortably.
- Do not walk your dog with bikes or skateboards: Riding on wheels to walk your dog increases the potential for injury.
- Choose the right footwear: Wearing shoes that provide stable footing while walking your dog will decrease the potential for injury.
Prognosis for Dog Walking Injuries
Most patients recovering from dog walking injuries can look forward to a brief healing period for soft tissue injuries.
Injuries requiring surgical intervention may require immobilization splinting or casting followed by a period of rehabilitation to maximize mobility and comfort.
If You Believe You Have Dog Walking Injury Contact HandSport Surgery Institute
Please contact us to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing a dog walking injury should be evaluated to hasten healing and reduce the possibility of further injury and mobility issues.
If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and start to restore comfort to your hand.