It’s a natural reaction to a sudden loss of balance. In the split second between falling and hitting the floor, we outstretch our hands.
While the instinct itself comes faster than the conscious thought, falling onto an outstretched hand (or FOOSH for short) can potentially cause more damage than it prevents. Injuries to the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and even collarbone can and often do occur when saving ourselves from the quickly approaching floor.
Don’t let the silly-sounding abbreviation fool you. FOOSH injuries can have lasting effects and limit your range of motion for years. Your doctors at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons are happy to report that most FOOSH injuries can be treated. Here are symptoms to be aware of:
FOOSH often results in what are called Colles fractures and Smith’s fractures. Depending on the force, surface, and way in which you fall, one or both of these fractures can occur.
A Colles fracture affects the radius bone of the forearm (the bone extending from just beneath your thumb and up to the elbow). What often feels like a broken wrist may actually be a complete fracture of the radius causing pain, swelling, and even visible deformity.
A Smith’s fracture, meanwhile, occurs in the same bone but nearer to the wrist. A fracture to what’s called the distal radius may also cause pain, numbness, bruising, and in severe cases visible deformity.
A scaphoid fracture may also occur in any one of the eight small wrist bones. While somewhat less serious than a Colles or Smith’s fracture, a scaphoid fracture can masquerade as a mere sprain making detection trickier.
Channeling the force of your falling body up into the arm can have consequences further back toward the torso. In addition to wrist fractures, elbows are especially susceptible to dislocation and fracture.
While an elbow fracture may present with swelling, pain, and numbness in the fingers, an elbow dislocation can have even more frightening symptoms.
Elbow dislocations can cause a flat-out inability to bend the arm. You may not even feel your pulse at the wrist of the affected arm. A sling and splint followed by some physical therapy are the most common treatments.
Given enough force or height, falling on an outstretched hand can cause shoulder dislocation or a tear to the rotator cuff. Somewhat infamous for intense pain, shoulder dislocations are also noticeable by deformity to the shoulder and an inability to move the injured arm at the shoulder.
A fractured clavicle, or collarbone, can cause pain, bruising, and most telling of all: a bulge beneath the skin. Collarbone fractures can even cause a grinding sound during movement.
FOOSH – Silly Name, Serious Injury
Falling-related injuries aren’t limited to athletes and the elderly. They can happen anytime to anyone.
If you’ve suffered lingering pain or limited mobility after a fall, waiting for it to heal on its own may actually cause more damage. Some injuries may seem minor but could actually be fractures.
The doctors at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons know the ins and outs of falling down. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms after a fall, give us a call today at 205-838-4747 or request an appointment online by clicking here.