On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

Gardening Safety Tips From INTEGRIS Hand Surgeons

Even though Oklahoma was covered in freezing rain and ice just two weeks ago, the delightful, spring-like weather last weekend has many of us longing for patio time and the smell of fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables grown in our own gardens. While we still have a few more weeks of winter, it shouldn’t stop you from planning and dreaming.

In fact, according to the agricultural department of Oklahoma State University, there are some hardy and semi-hardy vegetables that can be planted now, before the last frost, including cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, onions, peas, lettuce and spinach. If you’re looking for more information on timing, check out OSU’s Garden Planting Guide.

Since it’s not sweltering just yet, now is actually a good time to start your garden. Unfortunately, it can also be time for a trip to the ER. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there are more than 400,000 visits to emergency rooms annually to treat garden tool-related accidents.

Here are a few tips from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand to keep you and your hands safe from injury.                

Wear properly fitting gloves.

  • Gloves will minimize blistering and protect your skin from fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Gloves will protect your hands from exposure to bacteria or fungus living in the soil, because any cuts or blisters on the hand are at risk for developing infection once exposed.
  • Gloves will protect your hands from thorns, bites and poison ivy.
  • Gloves prevent sunburn and decrease the risk for skin cancer in the future.

Avoid Prolonged Repetitive Motions.

  • Repetitive motions liking digging, raking, pruning or planting may cause skin, tendon or nerve irritation.
  • Avoid irritation by varying your tasks, rotating every 15 minutes or so and resting in between, to keep from using the same muscles over and over.            

Use the right tool for the job.

  • Use each tool for its intended purpose (for example, don’t dig with your shears).
  • When purchasing tools, look for those that have safety features, such as locks on cutters, to keep the blades closed when not in use.

What to do in case of injury

  • Bleeding from minor cuts will often stop if you apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.
  • Make sure you wash the cut thoroughly with clear water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Use soap and a washcloth to clean around the wound — keep soap out of the wound because it can cause irritation.
  • There is no need to use hydrogen peroxide, iodine or harsh cleansers as they can also irritate the tissues.
  • Make sure to cover the wound and change the bandage at least once per day.

When to seek medical attention

  • If continuous pressure doesn’t stop the bleeding after 15 minutes.        
  • If you are unable to fully cleanse the wound.     
  • Persistent numbness or tingling in the injured finger or hand.    
  • If you are unsure of your tetanus immunization status (it should be within the last five years).
  • If the wound is all the way through the skin exposing fat or muscle, as it may need stitches.

The INTEGRIS Hand and Microsurgery Center is dedicated to providing excellent medical and surgical care for patients with hand, wrist and upper extremity diseases and injuries. Patients are provided a full spectrum of state-of-the-art care for acute injuries, post-traumatic reconstruction and chronic diseases.

The center provides care for patients of all ages from the newborn to the centenarian and everyone in between — including children with congenital musculoskeletal anomalies, adolescents with sports injuries, adults with cumulative trauma disorders and senior patients with geriatric upper extremity conditions.

The center also provides care for patients from all walks of life: weekend warriors with overuse conditions, athletes with sport injuries, workers with industrial and occupational diseases and retirees with arthritic disorders.

For more information, please visit the INTEGRIS Hand and Microsurgery Center website or call 405-945-4888.


About INTEGRIS hand surgeons:

Ghazi M. Rayan, M.D., is an orthopedic and hand surgeon. He is also a clinical professor of orthopedic surgery, adjunct professor of anatomy and the director of the Oklahoma Hand Fellowship Program at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Dr. Rayan is an honor graduate of the medical school at Alexandria University in Egypt. He completed a general surgery internship at the University of Maryland/South Baltimore General Hospital, an orthopedic surgery residency at Union Memorial/Johns Hopkins Hospital, and an upper extremity hand and microsurgery fellowship at the Raymond Curtis Hand Center in Baltimore. He is board certified in orthopedic surgery and hand surgery and has more than a quarter-century of experience. He is a member of 25 surgical societies, has given almost 250 presentations to domestic, national and international groups, published 175 scientific articles, wrote over 30 book chapters and edited seven books.

Margaret Porembski, M.D., received her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine. She continued her clinical residency in general surgery at Loyola University Medical Center and Drexel University College of Medicine, and a hand surgery fellowship at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Porembski also completed a research fellowship in tissue engineering at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.