OrthoQUICK Tips to Prevent Thanksgiving Injuries

We’ve got suggestions to help you avoid the common Thanksgiving injuries we treat over the holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving Injuries

When November arrives, no one wants Thanksgiving injuries on the menu. Unfortunately, our OrthoQUICK healthcare teams know that seasonal injuries will appear in their clinics as predictably as roast turkeys appear on holiday tables. Three of the most common Thanksgiving injuries are the result of carving knife mishaps, impromptu family football games, and snowblower malfunctions. Although our OrthoQUICK healthcare teams are here to help, we’d rather have you enjoy a safe and healthy holiday. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some tips to help you prevent seasonal injuries as you gather with family and friends.

Thanksgiving injuries involving carving knives

Proudly carving the Thanksgiving bird is a highlight of the holiday—but a moment’s inattention can turn that highlight into a medical emergency. Risk is implicit when using sharp kitchen implements, and that risk is amplified when you fold in the bustling excitement, crowded kitchen counters, and cocktails that accompany holiday gatherings. A few safety precautions can help you avoid Thanksgiving injuries and safely serve up the star of your feast.

  • Dry your hands before you carve to ensure a secure grip on your carving tools.
  • Work on a stable work surface, slicing away from your body and limbs.
  • Use a second utensil, and not your hand, to hold the bird in place while you carve.
  • Cut large portions of meat from the bird and transfer them to a flat stable secondary cutting board to slice them into individual portions.

Thanksgiving injuries during family football games

Football is a mainstay of Thanksgiving weekend. Big-screen games can prompt a friendly game of family football in the backyard. That’s why every Thanksgiving weekend, a few sheepish middle-aged men appear in our OrthoQUICK waiting room with a variety of sports-related injuries. They include head injuries, wrist and ankle fractures, dislocated fingers, shoulder injuries, and ruptured tendons.

In the throes of holiday festivities, we tend to overestimate our strength and overlook those few extra pounds gained since our high school football days. But tendons lose flexibility with age, making them more vulnerable to tears and inflammation. Knee sprains, meniscus tears, and other joint damage are particularly common among older men who may overlook stiff joints or lack of exercise when they assess their readiness to head outside for a game of pickup football. If football is one of your family’s holiday rites, there are a few preventative steps that will make your game safer.

  • If a family game is an annual event, build regular workouts into your weekly routine. This will keep you are in shape for athletic competition.
  • Take 10 minutes to stretch before you head into the cold. Warming up your muscles beforehand helps offset the stiffening effects of cold temperatures.
  • If there’s padding available for you to wear, put it on.
  • Have ice on hand just in case, so you can give immediate attention to strains and sprains.
  • Thanksgiving cocktails add to celebratory cheer, but can slow your responses and judgment. If you’ve been indulging, it’s safer to sit out the pickup football game. Stick with the professional game on the big screen.

Thanksgiving injuries related to snowblower malfunctions

It’s true that snowblower injuries happen throughout the winter. But when the first snowfall arrives in November, the risk of a snowbower mishap is particularly high. That’s because most of these injuries occur while an operator is trying to clear a jammed snowblower. And the risk of jamming is greatest when temperatures are 27 degrees or higher and when the snow is heavy, wet, and deep. In addition, the CDC reports that inexperienced operators and people using their snowblower for the first time in the season are more vulnerable to injury.

In Minnesota, the family snowblower is an invaluable aid to get us through winter. But many Minnesotans don’t realize how dangerous a jammed snowblower can be. Most people know to turn off the snowblower before they attempt to unclog the blades. But what they don’t realize is that turning off the snowblower does not always deactivate the blades at the front of the machine or the impeller blades in the chute. When the blower jams, the blade stops like a spring. That potential energy continues to push against the clog even after the machine is turned off. When the jam is unclogged, the blade whirls into motion, causing serious lacerations and amputations. However, the good news is that snowblower injuries are completely preventable with a few simple precautions.

  • If your snowblower jams, disconnect the machine’s power source.
  • Never use your hands to unclog a jammed snowblower. Instead, use a broom handle or a sturdy tree branch to loosen the snow.
  • Wear safety glasses while unclogging the blower. They’ll protect against objects that may be propelled by the blades when the clog is cleared.
  • Don’t operate a snowblower if you’ve been drinking; alcohol can impair judgment.

A few preventative measures reduce the risk of Thanksgiving injuries and increase your odds of sharing the holiday with family and friends—and not with the OrthoQUICK healthcare team. And an injury-free holiday is something we can all be thankful for.

Summit Orthopedics supports healthy communities

Community health flourishes when specialized orthopedic care is conveniently available close to home. Summit Orthopedics is proud of our fellowship-trained subspecialty teams offering the full spectrum of orthopedic expertise in bone, tendon, ligament, muscle, and joint conditions—in addition to our wellness, prevention, and rehabilitation services. We have the expertise to proactively improve fitness, evaluate discomfort, and deliver personalized treatment to quickly and safely return you to the lifestyle you love.

Start your journey to a healthier, more active self. Visit our Facebook page to learn about our wellness services and schedule a free wellness consultation online. Find your orthopedic expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics. 

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