Be Careful When You’re Carving

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As we get closer to Halloween, we enter prime time for pumpkin carving.  It's a tradition for many families, but it can be dangerous.  One doctor at Geisinger Medical Center has already seen cases of hand injuries from pumpkin carving.

"As you finally get through there may be a sudden release, where the knife goes much further than anticipated.  So as you're cutting, it's possible the knife slips and cuts your dominant hand," said Dr. Steven Goldberg, a hand surgeon with Geisinger Health System.

Dr. Goldberg says the number of hand injuries soars this time of year.  He points out there are a number of tendons, nerves and arteries in the palm and the fingers.

"When a tendon is cut completely, you'll lose ability to move that part of the finger.  A partial tendon injury would mean pain, but may not eliminate movement, so they're hard to diagnose," noted Dr. Goldberg.

Cutting a nerve can mean a lot of pain and numbness, even for a small cut.  Injury to an artery can be an emergency situation because it affects blood supply.

Dr. Goldberg instead recommends using plastic knives and tools sold at lots of stores this time of year, which don't penetrate the skin with light pressure.

"It's very inexpensive.  If you think about the difference between 1.50 to get these versus missing work for 3 months, it's a good thing to purchase," he said.

Another suggestion would be to cut the bottom of the pumpkin instead of at the top, which can help keep your jack-o-lantern more stable both while you're carving it and when it's on display.