Animal bites of the hand are more likely to become infected than other parts of the body. Spot an infection – which can result in surgeries, amputations or even death – by watching for these signs:
- Increased redness and pain around the bite
- Difficulty moving the body part
- Development of an abscess (a bump full of puss or debris)
- Red streaks going up the arm
- Enlarged lymphnodes
Reduce your risk of infection by visiting a doctor immediately after an animal bite, regardless of whether you are experiencing any problematic symptoms. Dog and cat bites are the most common animal bites. Learning how to prevent and treat these injuries is important. Here are some tips:
Spring is in full bloom, and now is the time to tend to your garden! Follow these safety tips to prevent gardening injuries:
- Wear gloves: Gloves will reduce blistering and protect your skin from fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria and fungus that live in the soil. When exposed to soil, even small cuts can turn into a hand infection.
- Rotate tasks: Repetitive motions such as digging, raking, trimming, pruning or planting can cause skin, tendon or nerve irritation. Rotate tasks every 15 minutes and take brief rests between so the same muscles are not used over and over again.
- Use tools: Do not use your hands to to dig. Sharp objects and debris in the soil can cut or puncture the hand. Use a hand shovel or a rake.
- Check your posture: Keep your wrist in a relaxed or neutral position when using tools as opposed to bent. This keeps grip strength at its maximum and requires less pressure to control the tool.
- Use caution when climbing a ladder: Always have someone holding the ladder as you climb, and make sure the ladder is on even ground. If pruning needs to be performed higher up on a tree, consider hiring a service.
Dr. Benjamin J. Jacobs, an orthopaedic surgeon, answers your questions about carpal tunnel syndrome.
Q: What is the carpal tunnel?
A: It is an actual tunnel made from the bones in your wrist and a tough ligament. The carpal tunnel nerve (median nerve) and several tendons run through the carpal tunnel. The thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger get their sensibility from the carpal tunnel nerve.
Q: What does carpal tunnel syndrome feel like?
A: It varies on the person. The most common feelings people tell me about carpal tunnel syndrome are numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, and clumsiness (frequently dropping things, difficulty with buttons or needle work). The numbness or tingling most often takes place in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. Very commonly, people wake at night or in the morning and have to “shake out” the numbness from their hand.
Q: How does carpal tunnel syndrome happen?
A: Anything that increases pressure on the carpal tunnel nerve can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Often, we don’t ever find out why someone develops carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes we see carpal tunnel syndrome in the setting of certain medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, and pregnancy. Often it is not just one thing causing carpal tunnel syndrome, but a combination of factors.