Gardening Injuries

When spring and summer roll around in Minnesota, many people are itching to go out to work on their yards and gardens. When considering gardening, many people immediately think of back pain from the pulling and bending. However, it is necessary to recognize many repetitive movements, such as raking, weeding, digging, and pruning, are very stressful to the smaller muscles of the hands, wrists and arms as well.

Preventing Gardening Injuries

Wear gloves at all times

Bacteria and fungus live in the soil, and a small cut or break in the skin can develop into a hand infection.

Find the right tool

There are many hand tools on the market that have ergonomic designs that ease hand pain and stress.

Take breaks

Do not do all your gardening in one day. Listen to your body and take rest breaks to avoid overusing the same muscles – the hand’s small muscles are easily fatigued.

Hands aren’t a replacement for tools

Use a garden hoe instead of your hand for digging. Use a pair of scissors or a knife to open bags of soil and fertilizer.

Watch the position of your wrist

Try to keep your wrist in a neutral position, avoiding unusual angles.



Remember to stretch your hand and arm muscles before, during and after gardening. When gardening, make sure to switch your positions by kneeling, sitting, squatting or standing.


Common Gardening Injuries and Conditions

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a nerve compression syndrome caused by increased pressure to the median nerve at the wrist. Basically, the median nerve becomes pinched at the wrist. 

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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome primarily affects individuals who tend to overuse their knees such as runners, cyclists, skiers and others whose activities involve running and jumping. It encompasses a group of conditions that impact the area surrounding the kneecap. This results in damage, strain or inflammation of the structures, which leads to pain.

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Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylosis, commonly known as tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition involving the tendons attached to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle.

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DeQuervain Syndrome

DeQuervain syndrome is a condition where the tendons that straighten the thumb become painful as they pass through a narrow tunnel located along the thumb side (radial side) of the wrist, called the first dorsal compartment. The soft tissues that make up the tunnel and/or the sheath surrounding the tendons can become thickened, constricting the tendons and causing pain.

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Arthritis of the Thumb

The joint at the base of thumb allows the thumb to move in a variety of directions and is vital for gripping items in our hands. In normal joints, cartilage covers the ends of bones and acts like a shock absorber allowing smooth, pain-free movement. In osteoarthritis (OA), or "degenerative arthritis" the cartilage layer wears out, resulting in bone-on-bone contact, pain and joint deformity.

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