Tri-County Orthopedics' Hand, Upper Extremity & Sports Injury Expert, Dr. Kenneth Montgomery, Offers Safety Guide for DIY Projects

With COVID-19 reducing travel and many activities outside the home for area residents from all walks of life, many have refocused their energies on do-it-yourself projects, which can come with their own set of risks, most commonly hand, arm, elbow and shoulder injuries. From home décor to landscaping and home repairs, Dr. Kenneth Montgomery and his colleagues at Tri-County Orthopedics offer expert safety guidelines for adults and families to follow in taking necessary precautions. Patients in need of specialized bone, joint and muscle care are encouraged to call (973) 538-2334 to be seen by Dr. Montgomery in Cedar Knolls at 197 Ridgedale Ave., Suite 300. Telemedicine appointments are also available. For urgent needs, patients can visit the practice’s Walk-In Clinic at the Cedar Knolls location.

"With home improvement and even craft projects, hand, wrist, shoulder and elbow injuries are a potential given the nature of using power tools, sharp objects, ladders and the like," says Dr. Montgomery. "And while these projects come with some risks, do-it-yourself jobs around the yard and the home can be accomplished safely with the necessary precautions and knowledge, so I wanted to share a list of guidelines to keep in mind while taking on any project this fall."

Follow these safety tips from Tri-County Orthopedics to help avoid injuries when working on home, yard or craft projects: 

  • Know the tools you need for the job and how to use them properly: Even improper use of a hammer can lead to injuries like finger fractures. Deep cuts and even nerve injuries are common with scissors, craft knives and other small tools. If you have young children helping with a project, keep them away from sharp objects and have them do tasks that do not involve tools or heavy items.
  • Use extreme caution with power tools: Power drills, power saws and even sewing machines and lawnmowers are powerful machines that require knowledge and total attention to operate properly. When using these kinds of tools, be sure that your machine is stable and do not put your hand or arm near drill bits, needles or blades before it is turned completely off.
  • Wear the right equipment and attire: As needed, be sure to have on eye protection, a dust mask and gloves. Proper attire for most jobs includes not wearing dangling jewelry, loose sleeves or baggy clothes. If you have long hair, wear it up and out of the way. Shorts, bare feet and sandals are also ill-advised.
  • Keep a clean and clear workspace: Make sure you do your work in a well-lit, clean and dry area with stable surfaces. You should also place any tool not being used in a safe location to help you avoid tripping injuries, like bruises and sprains.
  • Practice ladder safety: Ladders are associated with many fall-related injuries, such as fractures, shoulder or elbow dislocations, rotator cuff tears or more severe injuries. Be sure to place ladders on a flat surface and keep the weight centered and do not overextend to reach any item. Also, have someone help by holding the ladder for more stability.
  • Take breaks and vary tasks to avoid overuse injuries: This can help prevent acute injuries, such as strains in your back, forearm and upper arm muscles, as well as chronic injuries, such as shoulder tendonitis (tendinitis) or elbow conditions, like cubital tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow. Listen to your body, especially if heavy lifting is involved.

"If you are injured while completing a job, working with tools or moving heavy items and you feel any pain or loss of function or sensation in your arm or other extremities, seek immediate medical attention," says Dr. Montgomery. "If you have a serious injury, you should be seen by a specialist as soon as possible."

Dr. Montgomery completed his training in orthopedic surgery at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery. He later underwent two additional years of surgical training through fellowships in sports medicine and hand and upper extremity surgery at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma and Harvard Hand and Upper Extremity Service, respectively. Dr. Montgomery serves as a specialist at the Sports Medicine Center and the Hand & Upper Extremity Center at Tri-County Orthopedics in Cedar Knolls, where he provides advanced care for sports-related and joint injuries and conditions, including nonoperative management and minimally invasive surgical treatment. 

To schedule a safe in-office appointment with Dr. Montgomery in Cedar Knolls or to seek consultation with one of the many experts at Tri-County Orthopedics, call (973) 538-2334.