As the cold weather sets in, it’s important to take precautions to avoid injuries due to freezing temperatures. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the most well-known cold weather injuries as told by our Hand Therapy experts as well as tips to avoid them.
Frostbite is an injury to the skin and underlying tissue when exposed to freezing temperatures or direct contact with ice, frozen metal or very cold liquids and can occur in a relatively short amount of time depending on the conditions. It is most common on the fingers, toes, ear, cheeks and chin.1 It can result in permanent injury or even partial or whole loss of a finger or the nose.3 This occurs in the ends of the extremities, due to the body attempting to keep the vital organs warm, such as the heart and lungs. The body will constrict blood flow to the limbs, causing them to become cool more quickly. Frostbite requires medical attention in a hospital setting as it can cause damage to the skin, tissue, muscles and bones. Damage can be severe enough that amputation is required. Further complications may include infection along with nerve damage. At risk populations for frostbite include children, the elderly, smokers and those who have had frostbite previously are more likely to suffer frostbite.
The initial phase, frost nip, is a milder form of cold injury that doesn’t cause permanent damage. During frost nip, the skin may become pale/white or waxy in color, due to blood vessel spasm. The fingers and hand may become numb.1,2 Frost nip can be treated with first aide measures, such as slowly rewarming the affected skin.
To prevent these serious, painful and potentially life changing injuries, caution should be taken. Here are some tips to avoid frostbite and frost nip.
It’s important to pay attention to your body and know the symptoms of frostbite and frost nip. If you experience either, seek medical help immediately.
If you have pain or injuries related to your hands or wrists, please reach out to our team of Hand Therapists. Our highly trained hand therapists aim to improve your mobility and range of motion through effective treatment of conditions that affect your hands or upper extremities. Free Assessments and appointments are available both in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.
Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. Frostbite. (2019, March 20). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/frostbite/symptoms-causes/syc-20372656
2. Frostbite in Hands: Signs & Treatment: The Hand Society. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.assh.org/handcare/condition/frostbite-in-hands
3. The American Society of Hand Therapists, Author at The Handcare Blog – Page 2 of 7. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://blog.handcare.org/blog/author/oliviathetherapist/page/2/