FOOSH injuries are some of the most common, but very few people know what they are. Short for “fall onto an outstretched hand,” FOOSH encompasses a wide variety of issues and a wide range of severity. This is what FOOSH means to a doctor, and what it could mean to you.
What is FOOSH?
FOOSH, short for “fall onto an outstretched hand,” injuries are some of the most common orthopedic injuries in the United States. Covering a wide range of injuries, FOOSH is less of a diagnosis and more of a way to denote what to be prepared for. While FOOSH injuries come in many different shapes and sizes, the nature of them remains the same.
Hand and wrist injuries are often hard to diagnose, but normally easy to treat. Because they are similar in nature, they are often similar in symptoms. What changes most often is the location of the injury. A FOOSH injury could manifest in the hand, wrist, forearm, or elbow. How it manifests is predictable — pain, swelling, maybe a cut or break. However, pinpointing where the injury is exactly is not that simple. Falling, as it turns out, is not predictable.
If you find yourself asking “what is FOOSH?” the natural follow up question is “why?” Why is the term FOOSH used, and why do I need to know about it?
The answer is simple: sometimes, the how is the important part. When it comes to making a diagnosis, a doctor’s job is a bit like detective work. Some things can be quickly tested for, but even getting to the testing requires some guessing. Consider these symptoms, as an example: sneezing, runny nose, and redness in the face. What can you derive from that?
You might think that the person experiencing these symptoms has a cold, as all of these symptoms are common in the common cold. However, you could also conclude that the person simply has allergies. Maybe you’ve recognized both as options. You might say, “this person has allergies because they would have a cough if they have a cold.” This would be reasonable, but not always true. Some people have colds and don’t cough once.
Let’s expand on the scenario. Let’s say this person is sneezing, their face is red, they have a runny nose, and it’s the dead of winter. Now, what do you think they have? It’s much more likely to be the common cold now, as a pollen allergy wouldn’t be showing itself at this time.
Of course, real scenarios are much trickier than this. Getting down to two options can take hours. But by starting our thinking with how the injury occurred, we can immediately rule out many things. A person who has experienced a FOOSH likely isn’t experiencing pain in their hand from arthritis, for example. While the term is vague, it’s much more specific than “injury.”
Why You Need the Answer to “What is FOOSH?”
Now that you know what FOOSH is and why it’s important to doctors, you might find yourself curious about why it’s important to you. You (I hope) are a good patient who knows that self-diagnosis often does more harm than good and go to get injuries checked out whenever you need to. As a result, inside baseball like “FOOSH” might not seem relevant.
You need to know what FOOSH is for one simple reason: when you know of it, you know just how dangerous FOOSH is.
FOOSH injuries happen day and night, often putting patients in the emergency room. One bad tumble can lead to a broken arm or a wrist fracture. After a FOOSH, you might find yourselves with a wide range of problems. A Colles’ fracture, for example, is a fracture occuring most often after a FOOSH whereby the wrist becomes displaced. FOOSH injury stories are horror stories just as often as they are something to laugh about.
And the best way to deal with them is prevention. That’s why you should ask “what is FOOSH?”. Because FOOSH is the reason to wear protective gloves or to show some restraint before walking over a patch of ice. FOOSH injuries are why we have elbow pads. They aren’t just there to make you look cool. Elbow pads can diffuse the force of a fall, and save you from an ER visit.
Falls can’t be prevented all the time, but FOOSH injuries can. If you find yourself in a sticky situation, watch what you do with your arms. If you’re carrying something and have to walk with your arms outstretched, be careful. FOOSH is much more fun to say than to be diagnosed with.