The rising incidence of illegal intravenous drugs has increased to epidemic proportions in the western world. However, while infectious complications like hepatitis and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome get the most attention, injection injuries are causing many issues. A retrospective study of patients admitted for chronic or acute injection injuries to the upper extremities was conducted by the Detroit Receiving Hospital from 1980 to 1985. The physical, demographic, historical, and microbiological as well as follow-up information was analyzed. Most of the injuries included subcutaneous injections to the hand with associated inflammatory or infectious complications. The bacteriological evidence revealed unique features and did not match the patterns that are expected to be found in the inoculation from typical skin flora. A treatment protocol that is based on these data has been suggested.
When we consider the various health professionals who are tackling issues related to the opioid epidemic, Hand and Upper Extremity therapists may seem like the last name, who is thought of. But many doctors and therapists will tell you that they treat patients who visit the hospital with hand or upper extremity injuries that are a result of an injection. These injuries can be difficult to treat not just because they’re complex and could be grave but also due to the social and psychological issues that are associated with using drugs.
Concerning upper extremity injuries resulting from injection of drugs. Injection
The people who inject drugs, as well as the people close to the – family members, friends, counselors, healthcare professionals, and so on should be aware that there are risks of infection at injection places. Studies have shown that infections caused by drug injection are the most common reason for people afflicted by addiction to drugs to visit the hospital. Drugs are injected into various regions of the body; however, upper and hand therapists typically find injuries in the elbow, shoulder, wrist, forearm, and hand. The majority of these injuries occur when an infection has not been treated for long enough and results in damage to nerves, tendons, veins, muscles, and arteries.
Although infections are typically the source of the injury, they can also lead to other issues and signs that can occur both before and after the injury. They can cause stiffness, swelling, pain, and weakness, as well as deformity, scarring, and even amputation. Additionally, these infections can spread to different areas of the body, causing complications, such as osteomyelitis (a bone-related infection) or sepsis. This is when bacteria begin to invade the bloodstream and result in organ damage.
A stigma-shielding barrier
While the negative health consequences of these injuries are enough to cause concern, stigma can make them difficult to treat. The stigma can be interpreted as a form of shame that those who take drugs suffer regularly. Stigmatization of drugs by others can make the user in a state of anxiety and fear as if they’re being accused of being a failure or a victim, that they’re not good enough, or that they are discriminated against by healthcare workers. When those who inject drugs have faced the stigma of being viewed as a failure, this could lead them to not seek medical attention, usually until the injuries are severe. It can also force patients to discontinue treatment earlier than they ought to. To combat stigma, in 2017, The Office of National Drug Control Policy issued an executive note requesting healthcare professionals to modify the way they speak to and about people with an addiction disorder.
How is a hand therapist able to help those with an injury resulting from the drug injection?
An upper and hand therapist could visit patients with this kind of injury in an open-door clinic, even if they’re still in the hospital at an inpatient clinic. Patients may be offered a range of therapies:
- Wound treatment
- Dressing adjustments
- The treatment of their wounds
- Immobilization in a protective orthosis
- Edema control
- Motion range
- Treatments that can help ease the discomfort
Therapists of the hand and upper extremities are aware that injuries resulting from the injection might require specific considerations, including the risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV, Hepatitis C, and MRSA. A further important function for the therapist is to educate patients regarding things such as how to care for the wound at home, take precautions, and how to minimize the dangers that could lead to future infections.
Although these are injuries to the body, however, there are social and psychological aspects that must be considered. Patients may spend an extended duration with their hand therapist throughout their treatment. During this time, they could be able to express emotional or physical issues that the hand therapist can help with by referring them to other experts. This could include specialists in pain management and support groups, as well as social workers and peer support specialists.
If you’ve been injured or suffer from numbness, pain, or pain in your wrist, hand, elbow, or any portion of your arm, put your trust in the care and treatment of the professionals at Central Ohio’s only university-based hand and arm clinic. We are aware of the most recent and most efficient methods to treat and diagnose the condition. The professionals collaborate to translate research findings into clinical applications, assess the patient’s progress, and coordinate treatment. Include Hand therapy exercises to empower the whole process.