Healthy Hands in the Winter

While some people love the winter for the snow covered trees, wardrobe change and seasonal sporting activities, others hate the winter due to it’s cold temperatures, darker evening and slick conditions. Though injuries and illnesses can occur at any time, some are more frequent in the colder months of the year. In this blog we will be walking you through some ways to keep your hands healthy this winter.

Many people experience body changes in the winter months due to the colder temperatures. For some, arthritis pain is more prominent in the winter. The drop in barometric pressure and temperature changes in the colder months restricts blood flow and can cause joints and tissue to expand, making your hands and major joints more sore and painful to move. In addition to illnesses contributing to hand woes in the colder months, winter injuries can cause some serious damage to your upper extremity. Slip and fall accidents are extremely common in the winter leading to hand and wrist injuries from planting hands on the ground to break the fall.

You can’t change the temperature outside, but you can make changes to what you’re doing at home to combat the cold and protect your hand health:
  • Wear gloves – any time you are outside be sure to wear gloves rated for cold temperatures. Not only does this protect against frostbite, but it also helps to keep your hands from seizing up, preventing pain and stiffness.
  • Stay dry – speaking of frostbite, when outdoors you need to be sure that your gloves (and other articles of clothing) are not only providing adequate warmth, but that they are dry! Dry, warm hands is key to avoiding frostbite in the wintertime.
  • Keep moving – movement in your hands and joints is essential when you’re cold to keep blood flowing, providing warmth and avoiding stiffness throughout your whole body.
  • Moisturize – the colder weather makes the air drier, causing your hands to chap and potentially crack. Not only can dry hands lead to additional pain and tightness, it can also lead do an infection if cracked skin is not treated properly.
  • Injury prevention – We understand that not all injuries are preventable, but you can take some steps to reduce your risk of winter injuries
    • To reduce the chances of a slip and fall accident, be sure you’re wearing shoes with good grip, salt your walkways (or walk in areas that have been salted), walk slowly and if possible, hold on to a railing.
    • Snow blower accidents are more common than you’d think! If your snow blower becomes clogged, power off the machine and wait several seconds until the blades stop moving completely. Use a stick, long handle or some other type of pole to dislodge the buildup. It is never safe to use your hands to unclog a snow blower. If you’re unable to fix the problem, it’s best just to wait until the snow in the machine melts on its own before starting again. Shoveling snow is a good but time consuming alternative with it’s own hazards. For more information on avoiding shoulder and back injuries for shoveling snow, check out another one of our posts here.

If a winter injury or illness is affecting your hands and joints, contact us to start the recovery process!

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