Common Hand Injuries In The Kitchen
Did you know that when working in a kitchen, your hands may become the victim of a variety of injuries? With the kitchen being full of potentially dangerous objects, you may sustain injuries ranging from burns, lacerations to even tendonitis as a result of overuse. Hence, it is important to consider the dangers your hands may face by staying alert and knowing the proper techniques to minimise the chances of injuries.
Here, we share some common injuries you may sustain in the kitchen, the steps you can take, and what warrants a visit to a hand specialist or doctor in Singapore.
Common Hand Injuries
Sustaining cuts in the kitchen can be common – these can range from a minor nick to a laceration with a cut in the nerve, artery, or tendon. While many minor cuts can be treated at home, larger ones tend to require medical attention immediately, especially if the bleeding cannot be stopped, or if your finger has lost its sensation.
In the case if any part of your hand is accidentally amputated, then it is recommended that you gently clean the amputated part as much as possible, before covering it with a moistened gauze wrap and placing it in a waterproof bag with ice. It is important to note that you should never place an amputated part in direct contact with ice as this can result in further damage.
Even though an accidental amputation can sound worrying or scary, a hand surgeon may still be able to reattach the severed piece through a procedure known as replantation. Whereas laceration of specific hand and wrist structures such as tendons, nerves, or arteries, often requires a wrist specialist or hand surgeon to perform reconstructive wrist surgery.
2. Avocado Injuries
Avocados are versatile, delicious sources of vital nutrients that can be spread on toast, turned into guacamole, or even sliced into your favourite salads. But, have you heard of avocado hand injuries?
In recent years, as the popularity of avocados continues to grow, so have the rise of avocado injuries. The method of cutting an avocado involves slicing the fruit in half before holding the fruit in your non-dominant hand and using the knife to remove the pit at the fruit’s centre. Upon removing the pit, the dominant hand is used to further peel and cut the avocado.
Avocado hand tends to happen when you’re cutting or preparing an avocado, and the knife slips through the soft fruit and into your hand or fingers. There are a few ways in which this can occur:
- The knife misses or slips off the pit when you’re trying to remove it, as a result, you cut your hands or fingers.
- Upon removal of the pit, the knife slips through the soft fruit into your hand or fingers.
Avocado hand often resembles a stab wound and can range from mild to serious. Mild to moderate cases can be treated with home care or stitches performed by a doctor, whereas severe cases may cause damage to the muscles, nerves, or tendons.
You should always seek medical attention from a hand specialist or doctor immediately if you cut yourself and observe the following symptoms:
- The bleeding cannot be stopped
- The cut is deep or subcutaneous tissue is exposed
- The wound is too large or gaping that the edges cannot be gently pushed together
- The cut is on or across a joint
- You feel a loss of sensation in the area that’s been cut or injured
If you have to cook many meals daily, then you may be at risk of tendinitis. Tendinitis is a result of overuse or repetitive actions of a joint like dicing vegetables. Performing these actions for prolonged periods can inflame your tendons and cause pain as well as soreness, particularly with movement.
The first-line treatment of tendinitis includes avoiding activities that may further exacerbate your condition, sufficient rest, and taking oral anti-inflammatory medications. However, if you find that your condition or symptoms do not improve even after rest, then it is advisable to seek the medical expertise of a hand specialist in Singapore so that they can better understand your condition and find the ideal treatment option for you. Surgery is only recommended if your condition is severe or if you do not respond to other treatments.
Prevention is better than cure
Regardless of skill level and ability, here are some tips and tricks to prevent injuries in the kitchen:
1. Have good posture. The nerves in your hands and wrists begin in the neck, and this means that proper alignment above your shoulders can minimise the chances of injury further down your arms. In addition, your shoulders should be kept down and relaxed to prevent straining your neck, shoulder, and arm muscles.
2. It is best to use easy-to-grip versions of common kitchen instruments. When choosing your kitchen utensils or tools, always opt for oversized handles instead of narrow/standard ones. If you have hand arthritis, then you should go with adaptive equipment designed for people with arthritis.
Read more: Hand Arthritis
3. To prevent yourself from sustaining avocado injuries, you should always assess how ripe the avocado is. A harder, or less-ripe avocado requires more force to cut, thus increasing the risk of injury.
4. Besides assessing the ripeness of avocados, you should prepare the avocado on a cutting board instead of your hand.
5. Be more conscious of where you keep knives and other sharp objects, especially if you’re soaking them in soapy water.
6. Use lightweight dishes and tools whenever possible to prevent straining your wrists too much. When possible, always stretch out your wrists and arms.
Under emergency circumstances, please do not hesitate to call Dr Jacqueline Tan at 6592 5522 (office hours) or 8123 9986 (after office hours or weekends) should you be suffering from a hand, wrist, or forearm injury related to soft tissues or broken bones.
We will be able to give you clear instructions on how to manage your injury and treat you as soon as you can and meet you at the A&E of your chosen hospital. Alternatively, you can ask for Dr Jacqueline Tan by name upon arrival at the emergency department. Dr Tan is accredited to operate at all Parkway Group of Hospitals (Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital, Parkway East Hospital), Mount Alvernia Hospital as well as Farrer Park Hospital.
By visiting a hand specialist as soon as possible, you’ll have a higher chance at recovery and resuming your normal activities.