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Common Hand Injuries From Falling at Work: What You Should Do

How to Find an Orthopedist Near Me

Instead of searching “orthopedist near me,” call (888) 533-0870 for high-quality care regarding common hand injuries from falling at work.

We often stick our hands out to catch ourselves when we fall. This behavior can trace back to our long-gone Moro reflex. 

Professionals from the University of Rochester Medical Center study continual reflexes. One reflex includes sticking our hands out to prevent chest, neck, or head injuries. From their reports, our conscious motor systems activate within ten to 30 milliseconds after tripping.

However, this reflex can lead to mild to severe hand injuries, especially in the workplace. Below, we discuss common hand injuries from falling at work and how to address them with your physicians.

The Most Common Hand Injuries from Falling at Work

Hand injuries vary in severity, even after what may seem like a simple fall. While you can injure your hand in several ways, these are the most common hand injuries that result from falling at work.


Sprains occur when the tissue connecting bone to other bone, called ligaments, sustains damage. These sprains often happen in areas with the most range of motion and require varying recovery times.

For example, thumb and wrist sprains can damage the ulnar collateral and other ligaments. The ulnar collateral ligament helps your thumb move, and the several ligaments in your wrist allow it to swivel and bend. 

Tears to these tissues cause persistent pain and, if severe enough, immobility. Without proper ligament support, you could lose the ability to grasp and hold things or push a door open.

Bone Injuries

Instead of tears in ligaments, the bones in your hand can fracture or dislocate, often causing severe pain. Fractures are cracks or breaks in a bone, while dislocations consist of misalignments between bones and their joints or sockets.

Hand and Finger Fractures

The most common hand injuries from falling include broken joint-adjacent and broken bones just before your knuckles. Finger fractures often occur when heavy pressure hits a fist, as it does for some boxers. 

While they commonly occur during sports activities, they also happen at work. For example, if you land on your hand, your fingers could curl against your palm. You could break your bones from the weight of your body if you fall hard enough.

Wrist Fractures

Eight small bones make up the wrist, and the large one closest to the thumb joint is the scaphoid bone. The Cleveland Clinic reports that scaphoid fractures make up 15% of wrist injuries, constituting the most common carpal bone fracture. Fractures to this bone often occur from falling on an outstretched wrist at the wrong angle.

The further back the wrist bends, the more likely you are to sustain an extension stress fracture. Other times, if the wrist doesn’t flex, the lower arm bone, or radius, breaks instead.

Unlike other broken bones, a scaphoid fracture can go unnoticed for some time. Scaphoid fractures often don’t cause visible swelling or deformities, leading some to mistake a broken scaphoid for a sprained wrist.

Dislocated Finger Joints

The joints above your knuckles, or the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints, can dislocate from forceful pressure at the right angle. When finger bones become hyperextended from their usual range of motion, they may pop out of place. This dislocation irritates the nerves and often causes stinging pain with obvious hand deformation.

PIP dislocations can accompany fractures, leading to a complex hand injury. To be sure of your situation, you should find a workers’ compensation doctor in New York for a proper diagnosis.

Soft Tissue and Tendon Injuries

The connective tissues attaching your bones to muscles are tendons. Irritating these tissues can lead to tendonitis or swelling of your hand or wrist tendons. Many workers obtain what is called a repetitive strain injury (RSI). 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compiles reports about RSIs, also known as musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs. One of their recent ergonomics handouts states that these disorders affect about 1.8 million workers yearly. Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic names tendonitis the most common injury within the repetitive strain category.

Thankfully, tendonitis and other RSIs/MSDs generally maintain coverage under workers’ compensation. Some injuries that appear for athletes show up in daily workers at desks or on the field, such as:

  • DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis
  • Stenosing Tenosynovitis
  • Capsulitis
  • ECU Tendonitis 

Why You Usually Aren’t at Fault for a Workers Comp Hand Injury

As the university medical center suggests, catching yourself on your hands when falling forward is one of several automatic body reactions. You often cannot control when and how you fall regardless, so work-related hand injuries usually face no contest. 

However, employers may not provide workers’ compensation if the accident occurred from gross employee negligence. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals helped set this precedent by denying workers’ compensation to a drunk employee in 2006. Occurrences like the following happen infrequently but can cause trouble for all involved:

  • On-site intoxication
  • Roughhousing or horseplay with coworkers
  • Purposeful workplace safety disobedience
  • Other instances of willful misconduct 

Workers’ compensation likely covers you if your actions leading up to the fall did not include deliberate misbehavior or impropriety. Trying to catch yourself during a fall would not constitute negligence alone.

Even if your hand injury is your fault, you don’t need to worry or feel negative about yourself. Instead, quickly refer to a workers’ comp doctor to receive medical care. Fast and efficient action can reduce the chance of long-lasting pain or disability.

How to Find an “Orthopedist Near Me”

Common Hand Injuries From Falling at Work

Our team at Workers Comp Doctors helps employees find medical professionals for common hand injuries from falling at work. We can help you find the right professional for short and long-term care 24/7. 

Doctors in our directory accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and Personal Injury Protection. Some of them may have same-day appointments available.

Top-quality care for a workers’ comp hand injury in NYC is a call away. Call (888) 533-0870 to find a provider who helps their patients take charge of their medical needs.

If you need help managing pain after a work-related injury, we can help you find the right doctor.

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