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Effect of Forearm Warming Compared to Hand Warming for Cold Intolerance Following Upper Extremity Trauma

Published:November 09, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2018.09.014

      Purpose

      This study evaluated the effect of forearm or hand warming versus bare hand conditions to improve cold-induced symptoms and skin temperatures in hand trauma patients.

      Methods

      Adults with symptoms of cold intolerance at least 3 months following hand trauma and age-/sex-matched controls were included. Testing sessions (bare hand, hand warming, forearm warming) were completed in a climate laboratory with continuous temperature monitoring. Outcomes included physical findings (skin temperature) and self-report symptoms (thermal comfort, pain).

      Results

      Eighteen participants (9 hand trauma patients, 9 control subjects) underwent testing. More severe cold intolerance was associated with higher Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand scores. With bare hands, skin temperatures changed significantly from baseline to cold exposure and to rewarming. Hand trauma patients had the lowest skin temperatures with cold exposure in the injured digits (14.3°C ± 3.5°C) compared with the contralateral uninjured (16.9°C ± 4.1°C) digits. Compared with bare hands, wearing gloves significantly increased the minimum temperature during cold exposure and the maximum temperature after rewarming. Patients reported higher pain with cold exposure. All participants reported significantly more comfort with less coldness with forearm and hand warming.

      Conclusions

      There was cold response variability in hand trauma patients and control subjects. Hand trauma patients had greater changes in skin temperature during cold exposure that improved with glove warming. Continuous temperature monitoring identified subtle physiological changes associated with cold-induced pain and with warming interventions.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Therapeutic III.

      Key words

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