November 1, 2006
Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like football, family and the
enticing aromas of turkey, stuffing, yams and pumpkin pie. But no matter
what’s included in a Thanksgiving spread, one dish nobody
anticipates is a hand injury. This holiday season, the American Society
for Surgery of the Hand cautions carvers to take steps to carve the main
course and not their own hands.
Every year during Thanksgiving, and throughout the holiday season,
people sustain hand injuries while preparing their holiday feast. From
cutting open pumpkins to carving the mouthwatering centerpiece, hand
injuries are all too common. Fortunately, these injuries are
According to Reid Abrams, MD, a member of the American Society for
Surgery of the Hand, holiday hand injuries are not exclusively linked to
carving turkeys, hams, and roasts. “Many hand injuries also occur
during post-meal clean-up,” says Abrams. “Care needs to be
taken when washing dishes—particularly soap-covered, slippery
glasses. I’ve also treated many tendon and nerve injuries that
were caused by crystal breaking while washing glasses by
Don’t let your turkey day celebrations go fowl this year
because of a hand injury. Follow these easy tips and get your bird on
the table in time so guests can start gobbling.
- Never cut towards yourself. One slip of the knife can
cause a horrific injury. While carving a turkey or cutting a
pumpkin your free hand should be placed opposite the side you are
carving towards. Don’t place your hand underneath the blade to
catch the slice of meat.
- Keep your cutting area well-lit and dry. Good lighting will
help prevent an accidental cut of the finger and making sure your
cutting surface is dry will prevent ingredients from slipping while
- Keep your knife handles dry. A wet handle can prove
slippery and cause your hand to slip down onto the blade resulting in a
- Keep all cutting utensils sharp. A sharp knife will never
need to be forced to cut, chop, carve or slice. A knife too dull to cut
properly is still sharp enough to cause an injury.
- Use an electric knife to ease the carving of the turkey or
- Use kitchen sheers to tackle the job of cutting bones and
- Leave meat and pumpkin carving to the adults.
Children have not yet developed the dexterity skills necessary to safely
handle sharp utensils.
- Lastly, should you cut your finger or hand, bleeding from
minor cuts will often stop on their own by applying direct pressure to
the wound with a clean cloth. Visit an emergency room or a hand surgeon
if: continuous pressure does not stop the bleeding after 15 minutes; you
notice persistent numbness or tingling in the fingertip; you are unsure
of your tetanus immunization status or you are unable to thoroughly
cleanse the wound by rinsing with a mild soap and plenty of clean
For more information about the American Society for Surgery of the
Hand and its free “Find a Hand Surgeon” service offered to
the general public, please visit: www.HandCare.org.
The mission of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is to
advance the science and practice of hand surgery through education,
research and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners.
The field of hand surgery deals with both surgical and non-surgical
treatment of conditions and problems that may take place in the hand or
upper extremity (from the tip of the hand to the shoulder). Hand
surgeons can set fractures, provide appropriate nerve care, treat common
problems like carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow, reattach
amputated fingers, create fingers for children born with incompletely
formed hands, and help people function better in their day-to-day lives
through restoring use of their fingers, hands, and arms.
© 2006 American Society for Surgery of the Hand