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What are Gardening Injuries?

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are commonly seen in gardeners due to placing too much force on ligaments, muscles, joints, and tendons. This causes inflammation, pain, and a possible reduced range of motion.

In some cases, injuries may also be sustained from tripping or falling onto an outstretched hand, or from even a single forceful movement.

Types of Gardening Injuries

Repetitive strain injuries result from actions you do with your hands, such as digging, pulling and pruning plants.

Other common injuries include:

  • Sprains of the metacarpophalangeal joints and interphalangel joints of the fingers and thumb.
  • Wrist ligament and tendon injuries, and forearm muscle strain.
  • Elbow ligament and tendon injuries, and elbow muscle strain.

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Gardening Injuries

Pain, swelling, and bruising are common in the affected area when a patient has been affected by a gardening injury. For many patients, additional pain is reported when lifting, twisting, or otherwise gripping with the affected region.

Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of gardening injuries include:

  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Obvious deformity
  • Decreased range of motion

Causes of Gardening Injuries

Repetitive tasks and repetitive suboptimal positioning are common causes that lead to injury. These movements can include weeding, planting, and digging, which involve repetitive injuries to the hand, wrist, forearm and elbow areas.

Injuries may also be sustained from falling with an outstretched hand, such as when someone trips over plant matter, branches or tools in their garden. Mishaps with tools and equipment occur.

Getting a Diagnosis for Gardening Injuries

Persistent swelling, tenderness, and/or pain to the affected region ought to be examined by a hand surgeon often with the aid of an X-ray to assess damage to the bony structures of the hand, wrist, and arm, as well as with a careful soft tissue evaluation.

Damage to soft tissues can be visualized with an MRI, so this test may be ordered if the surgeon suspects complex damage to the soft tissues of the hand, wrist, and elbow.

Treatment Options for Gardening Injuries

Rest and icing the affected region for a brief period often allows the injured ligaments to heal and re-stabilize the joint. Moving the joint appropriately is encouraged to counter natural stiffening as the body heals the damaged tissue at the proper time.

Taping injured fingers to the neighboring uninjured finger (buddy taping) may also be beneficial. Hand therapy is sometimes required to help regain motion and strength.

Conservative Treatments

Splinting and buddy taping sprained regions encourage natural healing in injuries that are appropriate for conservative treatment. Applying the P.R.I.C.E principle (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate) during a period immobilization is also beneficial:

  • Protect: The injured area should be protected with a splint, brace or activity modification.
  • Rest: The player should rest the injured area.
  • Ice: Cool the area briefly with a cool pack or ice bag to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression: Wrapping the area with an Ace wrap or bandage may limit the amount of swelling that can occur when done by a professional.
  • Elevate: Elevating the area also helps control swelling by using gravity to reduce the amount of fluid that accumulates in the affected area.

Surgical Treatments

Sprains or dislocations infrequently require surgical intervention. Provided that the joint is properly positioned and stabilized, injured ligaments typically heal. A thorough examination by Drs. Pruzansky will determine the degree of damage and whether or not surgical intervention is required to treat a gardening injury.

Preventing an Injury while Gardening

Injuries while gardening can be avoided with diligent attention to body mechanics and gardening equipment. In order to prevent injuries sustained while gardening, here are some practical tips to avoid common garden injuries:

  • Take care with garden equipment.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Know your limits.
  • Avoid repetitive stress injuries by resting between activities.
  • Don’t overdo it!

Prognosis for Gardening Injuries

Following a brief period of activity modification, most patients are able to enjoy mobility and strength in the affected regions.

We recommend that patients seek medical supervision to develop a rehabilitation program designed to allow the injury to heal and return the patient to regular activities as soon as possible.

If You Believe You Have a Gardening Injury Contact HandSport Surgery Institute

Please contact us to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing Gardening injuries ought to be evaluated to try and prevent 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 begin the recovery process and return to the activities you enjoy.

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