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Gardening Injuries Gardening can be extremely therapeutic and a good form of exercise for many people if carried out with care. Although gardening seems relaxing and suitable for anyone, in reality it involves some of the some of the toughest physical work a person does all year. Even in a small garden, tasks may include digging, raking, bending, reaching, lifting and carrying, which use muscles that perhaps have not been exercised for weeks or months. Injuries often result from inappropriate or excessive lifting or carrying, or to overzealous activities such as digging, fence painting or hedge cutting. Back problems Many garden activities can lead to back problems, including pulling weeds, raking a lawn and digging. Other potentially harmful causes of low back pain are frequent squatting and kneeling required for planting and weeding. Disc prolapse can occur in the garden but more commonly seen are pulled muscles and generalised muscle soreness due to unaccustomed use. Prevention of back injuries is the best option an can be lessened by avoiding digging for long periods, using wheelbarrows and other appropriate lifting gear for heavy duties and remembering appropriate lifting techniques involving bending the legs and keeping the back straight.
Being aware of such risks and taking care in the garden can help reduce ankle injuries. * Most sprains involve the lateral ligament complex and most are managed conservatively. Initial assessment involves appropriate examination of the ankle joint and deciding whether an x-ray is needed. The Ottowa rules for ankle injury recommend an ankle x-ray if there is bony tenderness of either malleoli and/or inability to weight bear. This seems an obvious suggestion but if followed appropriately will reduce the number of unnecessary x-rays performed. The majority will involve damage to the anterior talo-fibula ligament, with more significant injuries the calcaneo-fibula ligament is involved and with severe injuries the posterior talo-fibula ligament is damaged. Most injuries can be conservatively managed as follows * Protection with ankle bracing to prevent reinjury while ligament heals * Rest for injured ankle until normal heel-toe gait is restored * Ice on ankle to decrease swelling and relieve pain * Compression as soon as possible to decrease swelling * Elevation: the initial step for reducing swelling * Medication: NSAIDs for pain relief * Mobilization early on when pain free to expedite return to activities * Modalities: exercise and proprioception training to prevent reinjury Plantar fascitis This inflammatory condition affecting the origin of the plantar fascia on the calcaneum can be caused by excessive digging especially in unsuitable footwear.
Poisons There are hundreds of chemical preparations on the market to aid the gardener in his war against pests and diseases and it is vital to remember that most of them are extremely toxic, for this reason containers must be appropriately labelled and kept away from children. Power tools / machinery Equipment used in gardening can be potentially dangerous and sometimes lethal. Appropriate protective clothing and equipment must be used as per the manufacturers' instructions. Most advice needed in this area is common sense but each spring casualty departments are awash with gardening injuries. Examples include trauma to feet due to inappropriate footwear whilst using lawnmowers, eye injuries due to absence of goggles whilst cutting hedges, electric shocks from faulty electric cables. Vigilance is needed by all gardeners using such powerful equipment to avoid serious injuries or even a fatality. Injury Prevention Checklist to help prevent injury and accidents in the garden 1. Do not do too much too soon (particularly for novice gardeners). 2. Take regular breaks whilst working in the garden. 3. Avoid excessive bending and twisting at the knees. Lift items carefully by bending the knees. 4. Make use of labour saving tools which can help reduce overuse injuries. 5. Use appropriate protective equipment e.g. gloves and goggles. Dr Geoff Davies Dip SEM GP, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan.
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